Father of missing New Jersey girl releases video on her birthday and makes emotional plea for her safe return
Dulce Maria Alavez turns 7 today.
Her disappearance from Bridgeton City Park in New Jersey, nearly 18 months ago, remains a mystery.
Not much is known about her father, Edgar Perez, other than he lives in Mexico. According to investigators, he's been questioned regarding Dulce's disappearance, but has not been named a person of interest or suspect in the case.
Today, a man identifying himself as Dulce's father posted a video on Youtube wishing her a happy birthday with "Las Mañanitas," a Mexican birthday song. He doesn't show his face, but you can hear his voice. The five-minute video includes never-before-seen footage of Dulce walking, hugging, and playing with who is presumably her dad.
"It's been almost two years since she disappeared at Bridgeton City New Jersey Park," says the voice behind the camera. "I'm really, really sad and hurt. I don't know where she is. I don't know who she is with. I don't know if my baby girl is ok. Like everyone, I want to know where she is."
We have not independently confirmed with investigators if that is indeed Dulce's father, but the girl's maternal grandmother, Norma Perez, tells me that it is him talking in the video.
The man goes on to say that he helped take care of Dulce since she was a baby. "I know that most of you all think that I was never in her life, but let me tell you, guys, I took care of my daughter, too, since she was a little baby. I changed her diapers and did everything for her."
The man says he saw his daughter as much as possible until his deportation right before Christmas in 2018. He vehemently denies having anything to do with Dulce's disappearance.
"I was in Mexico when everything happened. For those who think that I took my baby girl, let me tell you that I got nothing to do with it."
Dulce was playing with her little brother near the swings at Bridgeton City Park on September 16, 2019. Their mother, Noema Alavez-Perez, and a younger relative stayed in the car some 30 yards away. Many, in the court of public opinion, believe Dulce's mother knows what happened to her daughter, but she has not been named a person of interest or suspect in the case. According to the FBI, Noema and her family have been questioned multiple times and her cell phones have also been checked.
The FBI believes Dulce was possibly abducted by a Hispanic man seen at the playground at the same time she vanished, but local authorities are not ruling anyone or any theory out just yet.
According to news reports, Bridgeton Police continue pursuing leads and are "working on developments," but declined to elaborate.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is also working on an age-progressed image of Dulce to show what she would look like today.
Meanwhile, the soft-spoken man in the video, is asking everyone to keep Dulce in their prayers.
"Let's all pray for my daughter. Please, don't lose hope that Dulce Maria Alavez will be found soon."
Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact Bridgeton City Police at 856-451-0033 or the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can submit an anonymous tip to the agency online. Si habla español llame al 1-856-207-2732. There's a $75,000 reward still being offered for information that leads to an arrest in this case.
Claudia Rivero Investigative Reporter/Producer