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Zoom 'birthday party' held for missing Dulce Maria Alavez
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Zoom 'birthday party' held for missing Dulce Maria Alavez

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Noema Alavez Perez, mother of missing girl Dulce Maria Alavez, holds onto an enlarged picture of her daughter following a march to Bridgeton City Hall in support of Dulce in January.

A video chat Saturday showed faith is still strong for the safe return of 6-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez.

Led by Alavez family spokeswoman Jackie Rodriguez, as many as 18 people joined the Zoom chat to celebrate the Bridgeton girl’s sixth birthday.

“I never planned to actually celebrate it without her present,” Rodriguez said at the beginning of the call. “I always kept confident and positive and thought she would have been home safe with her family. Let’s keep praying that she will be found soon so she can celebrate many more birthdays with her family.”

Dulce disappeared Sept. 16 while playing with her 3-year-old brother in City Park. Her mother, Noema Alavez Perez, 19, was sitting in her car with an 8-year-old relative at the time.

State Police issued an Amber Alert for Dulce a day after she went missing. Since the girl’s disappearance, authorities have searched for her using dogs, helicopters and boats.

The investigation into the girl’s disappearance is still active and ongoing, according to a post last week on the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office Facebook page.

Members of the Alavez family did not participate in the video chat, but people from the area, North Jersey, Georgia and Texas joined to show support.

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After Rodriguez’s emotional introduction, teary-eyed supporters composed themselves to say a prayer for Dulce. With a small birthday cake in front of her, Rodriguez then led the group in singing “Happy Birthday.” Some people brought cupcakes for the occasion. Others simply had lighters.

Tanjineka Brown, of Georgia, joined the call in solidarity with the family. Her 20-year-old son, she says, has been missing for a month.

“Things hit us when we least expect it,” Brown said. “I always post missing children (and) missing adults on my page on social media because I don’t see how any parent can bear it, regardless of the age.”

Brown’s son was involved in a serious car accident Feb. 17. According to her, he “hadn’t been right” since the accident. He left the house one night, and hasn’t been seen since.

Rodriguez, who has been involved in a number of searches, vigils and other Dulce-related activities, said she is considering planning a gathering at an oak tree at Bridgeton City Park if COVID-19 restrictions permit. The tree, near where Dulce was last seen, has been designated as a tribute site.

Any and all tips regarding Dulce can be sent to police at 856-451-0033 or through tip411 by including the keyword “Bridgeton.”

Staff Writer Molly Bilinski contributed to this report.

Contact: 609-272-7210

AAustin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressAustin

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