By CBS3 Staff


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Story has been updated with what Dulce Maria Alavez was wearing after police gave updated information]

BRIDGETON, N.J. (CBS) — It’s Day 2 in the search for a missing 5-year-old girl in South Jersey. More than 50 police officers are focusing their search efforts around Bridgeton City Park, where Dulce Maria Alavez was last seen around 5 p.m. on Monday.

Credit: CBS3

Police gave an update on the search on Tuesday afternoon, saying they are continuing to conduct the investigation under the assumption the girl could be found alive and well.

With choppers, scuba gear and numerous dogs, police are using everything available to find Dulce. Her mother, Noema Perez, reported her missing from Bridgeton City Park shortly before 5 p.m. Monday.

“We thought that she was just hiding, playing around and we went looking for her but we couldn’t find her,” Perez said.

Police say about 45 minutes before calling police, Perez took Dulce and her 3-year-old brother to a local custard stand for ice cream and then to the park to play. The two little ones ran off to the playground while Perez remained at her car with an 8-year-old relative.

She says a short time later, she went to check on the kids and Dulce had disappeared.

“When we got down, we found my son crying. His ice cream was on the floor. We told him ‘where’s your sister at?’ and he just pointed behind those buildings over there,” Perez said.

Perez looked around then called family members to help her search for the missing child before calling police.

Officials say they combed the area until midnight then resumed Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.

According to the Bridgeton website, the city park is no more than 1,000 acres. It includes the Cohansey River, Sunset Lake and several small bodies of water, as well as lots of thick, wooded areas.

Perez is desperate for help to find her daughter.

“I just want to find her and I want to find her that she’s OK, that nothing bad has happened to her,” Perez said.

Dulce was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with an elephant, black and white pants, and white shoes.

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

If you have any information, please call police at 856-451-0033 or text anonymously to TIP411.

CBS3’s Crystal Cranmore and Cleve Bryan have contributed to this report.