September 16, 2023, marks four years since 5-year-old Dulce Alavez went missing while playing with her younger brother in a Bridgeton City park located in New Jersey.
Investigators with the Cumberland County Prosecutors Office are hoping a new age progression image of Dulce created by a forensic artist at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children can help bring her home.
NCMEC has released this age progression image of what Dulce might look like now.
Age progressions are instrumental in aiding law enforcement in many missing and unidentified cases. NCMEC generates age progression images every two years until a missing child turns 18, then every five years because their features do not change as much once they reach adulthood. NCMEC’s forensic artist, Christi Andrews, created Dulce’s new image.
“When starting an age progression, the first thing I do is study the images of the missing child, in this case, Dulce,” said Andrews. “I want to understand the structure of her face as much as possible. I was lucky enough to get images of her biological family in addition to images of Dulce, which gave me clues as to how the family members grow and age over time.”
Once an age progression is completed, it is circulated by law enforcement and media outlets to bring awareness to that missing child’s case.
"Our age progression images have helped bring home missing children many times," said Angeline Hartmann, director of communications at NCMEC. We ask people to keep in mind that this may not be exactly what Dulce looks like now. This is an approximation, meant to spark recognition. We’re asking everyone to take a look and see if there’s something familiar about this face. Remember, we’re no longer looking for a 5-year-old and a child can change a lot in four years. We know our images can work. We just need the right person to see this and make that call."
If you have any information about the disappearance of Dulce Alavez, call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678), the Bridgeton City Police Department at 856-451-0033, or your local FBI field office at 800-225-5324.
It’s been almost three years since the abduction of a little girl from a suburban park in Bridgeton, New Jersey dominated news headlines, unsettling communities across the country with the idea that a child could be snatched in broad daylight and vanish.
On Sept. 16, 2019, 5-year-old Dulce Alavez was playing with her younger brother during a family outing at Bridgeton City Park in southern New Jersey. Dulce’s mother, Noema Alavez Perez, says she let the two of them run over to the playground while she stayed in her car with an 8-year-old cousin who was with them.
According to Noema, about 10 minutes later, Dulce was no longer visible on the playground. She searched the area thinking her daughter might be hiding…but there was no trace. After a frantic search, she called police to report the abduction.
Law enforcement interviewed everyone at the park, and the community came out en masse to help search for Dulce. Law enforcement searched by helicopter using thermal imaging cameras and even drained a nearby body of water, but there was no sign of Dulce.
Then, law enforcement issued an AMBER Alert on Sept. 17 after witness interviews revealed new information that she might have been abducted.
New Jersey State Police’s Facebook post announcing the AMBER Alert for 5-year-old Dulce Alavez.
Police also released surveillance images of Dulce at a convenience store from the day she vanished to show the clothes she was wearing. The family had stopped there for ice cream before heading to the park. She was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with an elephant on the front, black and white pants and white sandals.
Three years later and we still don’t know what happened to Dulce, who would now be eight years old. Her family continues to hold vigils and walks, anything to keep her name and picture out there. Last year, law enforcement released two age progression images of Dulce, created by a forensic artist at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, to show what Dulce might look like as she’s growing up.
NCMEC has released these age progression images of what Dulce might look like now.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Dulce Alavez, call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678), the Bridgeton City Police Department at 856-451-0033 or your Local FBI Field Office at 800-225-5324.