BRIDGETON, N.J. - Wednesday marks one year since Dulce Maria Alavez went missing from a park in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
Despite the passage of time, family and community members are still holding out hope she will be returned home safely.
Dulce Maria Alavez's mother spoke to FOX 29's Jason Martinez during a vigil at Bridgeton City Park.
“They were going to the park and I was scratching the lottery ticket and helping my sister with her homework. Ten minutes past and we didn’t saw them,” Noema Alavez Perez said. “I couldn’t find her so I went everywhere to look for her. I didn’t want to believe she was missing.”
Perez says she believes her daughter, who is now 6, is still alive and will not stop searching until she is found.
“I love her and miss you a lot and I’m not going to stop until I find you and you get home for us,” she said.
Dulce Maria Alavez was last seen near Bridgeton City Park on Sept. 16, 2019.
"I still have hope that she's found alive. I want to believe and trust the FBI that they're saying there's hope that she's alive. So everyday I wake up and I'm like, 'I wan't to see that she's alive,'" one member of the community told FOX 29's Marcus Espinoza.
Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly was at a community event Sunday to show his support. He says security measures have increased around the park since Dulce went missing.
"We've heightened our patrols through the park, We're working to put cameras throughout the park so our residents can feel more comfortable, but the main thing is we've heightened security," Mayor Kelly said.
Dulce Maria Alavez went missing while playing on the swings with her little brother at Bridgeton City Park on September 16, 2019. Later, her brother returned alone to their mother, who was sitting in a car nearby.
"Someone out there knows something and we ask that you not be afraid and speak."
The reward for information leading to Dulce's whereabouts stands at $75,000.
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