The search continues in Bridgeton, New Jersey, for a 5-year-old girl who disappeared from a playground Monday afternoon, Sept. 16, while playing with her brother. Authorities said the FBI is now assisting with the investigation.

The girl, Dulce Maria Alavez, was last seen just before 5 p.m. Monday in the area of City Park in Bridgeton, where her mother, Noema Alavez, 19, told police that the girl’s 3-year-old brother said she vanished as they played near several storage buildings next to the playground.

Alavez told police she stayed in her car with an 8-year-old relative watched Dulce and her 3-year-old son run toward the swings with ice cream cones in their hands. Ten minutes later, the little boy came running back without his sister, and the mother was unable to locate the girl.

Alavez then searched for her daughter for up to 15 minutes before calling police at about 5 p.m.

Police said they had no reason to believe Dulce had been abducted.

Ducle’s disappearance was being handled as a missing person’s case, but a criminal investigation by Bridgeton police is also underway.

Police have expanded the search for the girl.

“We thought she was just hiding,” Alavez said. “She was just playing hide and seek.”

Alavez said her shy daughter would know not to approach or walk away with a stranger.

“She would always be with me or my mom,” she said. “I don’t know why she just ran away.”

“I just want to find her,” the girl’s mother told the station.

Dulce is described as standing 3 feet, 5inches tall, and was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, black and white checkered pants with a flower design, and white sandals. She has dark hair and it was up in a ponytail, police said.

Dozens came together at the park to pray for Dulce’s safe return and to comfort her family.

Anyone with information should call police at 856-451-0033 or text the police department’s TIP411 text to relay information, subtext “Bridgeton.”

 

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