Dulce Maria Alavez memorial moved to nearby tree as search for missing 5-year-old continues
BRIDGETON, N.J. - A vigil was held in Cumberland County Sunday for a missing 5-year-old girl who officials say was abducted from a park in mid-September.
Family and friends gathered to move memorial items at Bridgeton City Park to a tree near the playground where Dulce Maria Alavez disappeared more than five months ago.
A family spokesperson called the oak tree a symbol of hope where fresh flowers will be planted until she is found.
Alavez vanished from the park after playing on the swings with her 3-year-old brother.
On Sept. 16, Alavez's mother was sitting in her car 30 yards away with an 8-year-old relative. Her 3-year-old son returned to the car without Alavez.
Investigators say Alavez was lured into the back seat of a red van by a male suspect who has been described as 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, with a thin build and acne on his face. He was wearing orange sneakers, red pants and a black shirt at the time of the reported abduction.
Alavez vanished from Bridgeton City Park on Sept. 16.
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Alavez vanished from Bridgeton City Park in mid-September.
Officials have exercised different strategies to find her including helicopter searches, volunteer searches, media specialist, a dive team, sonar and teams of dogs searching.
Police describe Alavez as 3-foot-5 with a medium build and dark-colored hair. She was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, black and white checkered pants with a floral design and white sandals.
Anyone with information regarding Alavez's whereabouts is urged to contact police.
A $75,000 reward has been offered for information leading to Alavez's return. Officials urge potential witnesses that authorities are not concerned with immigration status and are focused on information surrounding Alavez's disappearance.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Bridgeton City Police Department at 856-451-0033.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.