Hundreds gather at vigil for missing Dulce Maria Alavez
A vigil was held Saturday night at a Bridgeton baseball field adjacent to a playground where 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez went missing. Vineland Daily Journal
BRIDGETON - Hundreds of friends, family and supporters gathered here Saturday to pray for the safe return of a missing girl.
The vigil for 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez was organized by a local woman.
Jackie Rodriguez was moved as she watched the story of Dulce’s disappearance unfold.
"Well, it touched me because I have three children, my littlest is 2, and it's my biggest fear for something like this to happen," Rodriguez, a Buena resident, told The Daily Journal.
Rodriguez, 37, wanted to do her part to help any way she could.
On Wednesday she posted on Facebook plans to hold a candlelight vigil at Bridgeton City Park, the site where Alavez went missing from the recreation area around 5 p.m. while with her mother and younger brother.
Rodriguez said she expected 50 or so people to attend.
Many more than that showed up.
Alavez's maternal grandmother gave an emotional plea Thursday for the return of the missing girl during a media briefing outside City Park.
At that briefing, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae announced a $20,000 reward for information that leads investigators to Alavez or those responsible for her disappearance.
The reward has since grown to $35,000.
Another goal of Rodriguez's in organizing the vigil was to help the immigrant community here feel comfortable coming together.
That facet of this investigation is something Webb-McRae touched on Thursday.
"To our immigrant, undocumented community, we will not be asking questions about your immigration status," Webb-McRae said in a statement. "We only want information that will help us find Dulce."
Anyone with information about Alavez's disappearance is asked to contact the FBI at 1-800-225-5324 or text information to TIP411 with the subtext "Bridgeton."
A South Jersey native, Anthony Coppola has handled a variety of beats at The Daily Journal, including award-winning work in sports and business coverage. He joined the staff in 2008. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @AVCoppola. Please support local journalism with a subscription to The Daily Journal.
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