The Press of Atlantic City is working to keep readers in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties informed with up-to-date information on breaking news along with continuous coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bridgeton community holding out hope for missing 5-year-old girl
BRIDGETON — It has been nearly one year since a 5-year-old girl went missing from a city park in broad daylight, and the community is still searching for answers.
On Sunday, more than a dozen supporters returned to City Park to remind the public that Dulce Maria Alavez, now 6, could still be out there. Alavez disappeared from a playground just behind Alden Field on Sept. 16, 2019, while playing with her 3-year-old brother.
“I still have hope that she’ll be found alive,” said Jackie Rodriguez, a former family spokesperson and co-organizer of Sunday’s event.
Absent from the one-year remembrance was Dulce’s mother, Noema Alavez Perez. Rodriguez, who said she was asked in March to cease publicly speaking for the family after questioning Perez’s level of concern, defended the missing girl’s mother Sunday but also encouraged more support from the family.
“She’s a shy person,” Rodriguez said of Perez, but later added, “She shouldn’t be hiding. You should do whatever you need to do for your child.”
Mayor Albert B. Kelly has attended nearly every organized search and community event related to the young girl’s disappearance. Before departing to assist at a local food pantry Sunday, Kelly said he remained optimistic.
“I believe she’s still alive because I have not seen evidence (to suggest) otherwise,” he said. “We’re going to find her. I know we will.”
Kelly said Alavez’s situation “changed the community,” pointing to more awareness among parents when in public with their children, as well as adjustments by the city. Kelly said the Bridgeton Police Department has increased patrols in the park and are working on installing a video surveillance system.
Doreen Holder, spokesperson for the FBI-Newark office, said the investigation is ongoing and that authorities “will not stop until we find Dulce.”
Holder also spoke to a concern that, according to Rodriguez, many in the community are fearful of: coming forward with information because of their own immigration status. Holder said anyone with information could contact the FBI “without fear of immigration enforcement,” or do so anonymously via the bureau’s tipline.
“What is most important right now is that we work together to bring Dulce home,” Holder said.
The FBI is seeking information about anyone who was at the park the day of Alavez’s disappearance, people who visit the park regularly, or “if you or your children have ever experienced an uncomfortable situation at that park.”
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said the public should “remain vigilant and report anything that they believe may lead us to finding out who is responsible for Dulce’s disappearance.”
“No piece of information is too small, it may be that one piece of the puzzle that investigators need to crack this case,” Webb-McRae said.
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Man, 69, charged with murder after A.C. neighborhood dispute
ATLANTIC CITY — A 69-year-old man was charged Sunday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Marketa Thorpe, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office announced.
Maximo Santiago was arrested shortly after Atlantic City police responded to a 911 call at 11:24 a.m. Saturday in reference to a victim with a gunshot wound on Belfield Avenue following a neighborhood dispute, the Prosecutor’s Office said.
Police found Thorpe with a gunshot wound in the torso. She was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Division, where she died, the Prosecutor’s Office said.
In addition to the murder charge, Santiago was charged with second-degree possession of a weapon, third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second-degree certain persons not to have weapons, the Prosecutor’s Office said. He is being held at the Atlantic County jail while awaiting a detention hearing.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office website at acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at crimestoppersatlantic.com.
Atlantic and Cape May counties report no new COVID-19 deaths
Atlantic County reported no new deaths related to COVID-19 over the weekend, but 27 new cases were reported to bring the total to 4,138 individuals who have tested positive since March.
The newly positive were aged 5 to 83 years old. Of the new cases, there were six in Galloway Township; five in Egg Harbor Township; three each in Egg Harbor City and Ventnor; two each in Atlantic City, Brigantine, Hammonton and Pleasantville; and one each in Absecon and Linwood.
There have been 247 deaths from the virus in Atlantic County since April 2, and 2,792 people have been listed as recovered.
Cape May County reported six new cases to bring the total to 1,236 with 89 deaths and 1,029 listed as off quarantine.
Traffic advisories for EHT
Road construction at two different sites in Egg Harbor Township from Monday, Sept. 14, through Thursday, Sept. 17, may cause motorists to experience delays.
Ocean Heights Ave.
On Ocean Heights Avenue between Steelmanville and Blackman roads, there will be a single alternating lane of traffic from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Mill Road between Fire and Old Zion roads, there will be an overnight detour from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. All work is weather dependent and motorists should expect delays or seek an alternate route.
— Zac Spencer
Somers Point Little League baseball team advances to Section 4 final
The Somers Point Little League baseball team advanced to the final of the Section 4 tournament Saturday night with a 7-0 win over East Greenwich.
Starting pitcher Anthony Nodado nearly threw a no-hitter, striking out 16. He threw 52/3 innings but was unable to finish the game because he reached the Little League-mandated 85 pitch count. Chip Clooney came in to get the final out and finish the no-hit shutout.
LINWOOD — It’s a year of unusual sports, so the District 16 Little League baseball champions…
T.J. McBall was 2 for 2 with a single and a double. Kyle Williams was 2 for 2 with two singles. Aiden Flanigan was 2 for 2 with two singles.
Somers Point, which is comprised of 11- and 12-year-olds, played Haddonfield on Sunday in the single-elimination final. The winner advances to the state tournament in Holbrook, Jackson Township on Sept. 26 and 27.
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Sunday’s result wasn’t available for this edition.
Mays Landing Yacht Club hosts annual Night of Lights Boat Parade
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — The Mays Landing Yacht Club sponsored its annual Night of Lights Boat Parade on the Great Egg Harbor River on Saturday evening.
Twenty-eight theme-decorated vessels launched from the mouth of South River to the bulkhead in Mays Landing where hundreds of visitors gathered to view the spectacle as fireworks flew overhead from the judge’s dock on Morningside Drive.
Numerous docks were also decorated along the parade route.
The entry titled “Jaws” earned the first-place award for Joe and Sheri Maneri.
Tom Mackleer captured second place with his entry “Amore.”
The third-place winner was “Uncle Sam,” piloted by Joe Zucconi.
Chris Melincavage earned an honorable mention for “The Little Boat That Could.”
Jessica Johnson won the best dock award for her entry titled “Joe Exotic,” which is based on the Net-flix documentary series “Tiger King.”