Police Chief urges Immigrants to Help in Search of Abducted Girl

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Last week, on September 19, 2019, the search began for a missing five year old girl, Dulce Maria Alavez. Police suspect that Dulce was abducted while playing with her younger brother in the city park in Bridgeton, New Jersey. Naturally, one expects the girl’s community to put forth all of their effort into the search for the missing girl, especially after a statewide Amber Alert was issued by the New Jersey State Police. However, there is an assumed fear to come forward with information about the case due to the immigration status of the girl’s community. 


Bridgeton police Chief Michael Gaimari believes that someone out of the 25,000 people that reside in this town, that one must have information pertaining to the abduction of Dulce Alavez. Gaimari continues to urge citizens of his town to give information to authorities stating that their only objective at the moment is to return the girl to her family free of harm: “I understand that there is fear in standing up and coming forward with information, but there doesn’t have to be. I would urge anyone who knows anything about this incident to report it to local authorities all of whom work tirelessly to serve and protect everyone in our community.” 


A description of the possible kidnapper was released to the public that was provided by a witness at the crime scene that had claimed to see a man lead Dulce to a red van with a sliding door. The man was described to be light-skinned or possibly hispanic, approximately 5’6”, with a thin build, and no facial hair. Dulce was last seen wearing a “yellow shirt with a picture of an elephant, black and white pants and white shoes.”. 


A candlelight vigil was held for Dulce Saturday night as police continued to search the thousand acres that cover the Bridgeton City Park. Authorities are still concerned that this case is being complicated by fear of prosecution of undocumented immigrants. Following several high-profile ICE raids this year, including one in August where 680 undocumented immigrants were arrested in Mississippi, Chief Gairmari said he knows many Bridgeton residents are still hesitant to talk to state and local police.


Despite these distractions from the investigation, the FBI is assisting state officials in the search for the five year old girl. And even if federal investigators do take full jurisdiction of this case, the legal status of the residents is not a priority or concern to officials.


“Please, I ask you with all my heart that if you see something strange, that you report it to the police,” Abad Perez, Dulce’s uncle said. “Don’t doubt calling the police.” The award for information leading to the return of Dulce has increased to thirty-five thousand dollars. The FBI, New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, two local businesses, and Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office have all contributed to the award to find the missing child.


Dulce’s family still remains hopeful as they await her return but struggle to cope without her for the time being. “You don’t know the anguish we have in the house,” said the child’s mother after her abduction. “The emptiness she’s left behind.”