BRIDGETON, N.J. (CBS) — As police continue to investigate the disappearance of 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, the Bridgeton community is also doing what it can to help. Investigators confirm they have made contact with Dulce’s father, but would not say where he is or who spoke with him.
Police say Dulce’s mother is cooperating with police and the girl’s father is not in the United States.
Walk through downtown Bridgeton and it’s easy to see what’s on everyone’s minds.
On Tuesday, Bridgeton police saturated the town with new flyers to help find Dulce, who they believe was abducted last Monday at Bridgeton City Park.
Businesses like La Hacienda restaurant say they’re more than willing to help spread the word.
“We are so united and we want the same for Dulce to come back to the family,” Liz Arreola said.
One local business, El Paisano Tortillas, took it a step further and contributed $5,000 to the reward for information on Dulce’s whereabouts, which now stands at $35,000.
“She’s a child. I have kids and I would not like to see any other kids go missing,” Ivan Lucero said.
Police say, at this point, they have no strong suspects about who took Dulce.
HAPPENING TODAY in the search to find #DulceAlavez police are saturating downtown Bridgeton with updated reward flyers and the Mayor Albert Kelly is speaking to Hispanic faith leaders to reassure them people with tips won’t face questioning on immigration status pic.twitter.com/O8xuQMZLDf
— Cleve Bryan CBS3 (@CleveBryan) September 24, 2019
On Monday, they stopped cars and passed out flyers by Bridgeton City Park and the high school.
On Tuesday, Mayor Albert Kelly reached out to faith leaders in the Hispanic community.
“I’ve been in touch with a number of churches. They are praying but also working with law enforcement as much as they can,” Kelly said.
Kelly, who is a chaplain as well as the mayor, says he is stressing to leaders in the Hispanic community that police in New Jersey are under a directive from the state’s attorney general not to ask immigration questions or cooperate with customs officials in most cases. That includes the search for Dulce.
“I want our immigrant community to feel comfortable in sharing information that any law enforcement here in our city and our county are not going to ask about your status,” Kelly said.
The suspect is described as a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic, man, and standing 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 with a thin build. He has no facial hair but he does have acne.
Dulce was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with an elephant, black and white pants, and white shoes.
*** If you have any information, please call police at 856-451-0033 or text anonymously to TIP411. ***