The search for 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, who has been missing for more than two weeks after vanishing from a New Jersey park, continues with few answers and few clues, authorities said Friday.
"We are still searching for that key piece of information that we need to lead us to Dulce or to the circumstances surrounding her disappearance," Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McCrae said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
She implored the public to contact officials with any piece of information that may help, including seeing a child that looks like Dulce or observing that a person they know may have been behaving differently within the last two weeks.
"No piece of information is too small or too insignificant," Webb-McCrae said.
Dulce was last seen on Sept. 16 in the afternoon near City Park in Bridgeton, New Jersey. Authorities previously said they did not have any "strong suspects" but are still interested in speaking with a man they initially thought took Dulce.
The man is described as wearing a black shirt and red pants with orange sneakers, and had a thin build, acne and no facial hair.
Webb-McCrae said her office still wants to speak with him, but would not comment further. Bridgeton Chief of Police Michael Gaimari said no one has been cleared in the investigation.
No piece of information is too small or too insignificant
"Until the child is located and we can determine what happened to the child, nobody has been cleared," Gaimari said.
Webb-McCrae said she still remains hopeful Dulce is alive because no evidence has come forward to prove otherwise. She noted that it is possible Dulce may no longer be in the Cumberland County area or even the state of New Jersey, but numerous law enforcement agencies are working on the case.
Dulce's mom, Noema Alavez Perez, said on the day her daughter vanished, she was in the car scratching off a lottery ticket while her daughter was playing on the swings with 3-year-old brother, about 30 yards away.
Perez said she could see the park but not the swings because hills were blocking them. When her son returned to the car, Dulce was nowhere to be found.
"Why her? Why does she have to pay the consequences? She's just a small girl," Dulce's mom, Noema Alavez Perez, told reporters at a press conference Monday.
The FBI, state police, missing persons unit, helicopters and the downtown ship dive crew have been part of the search effort for the little girl. A $35,000 reward has been issued for any information on Dulce.
The FBI, Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office, and the New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association are each contributing $5,000. Two local businesses, Tortilleria El Paisano and Newfield National Bank, are each offering $10,000.
Anyone with information on Dulce's whereabouts is urged to call the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit at 1-609-882-2000 ext. 2554, the Bridgeton Police Department at 1-856-451-0033, or to immediately dial 911. For an anonymous tip line, people can text TIP411 with the word "Bridgeton."