An Amber Alert was issued late Tuesday night for a 5-year-old girl who was last seen, investigators believed, being led away Monday afternoon from a park in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, by an unidentified man.
The girl, identified as Dulce Maria Alavez, was wearing a yellow shirt with an image of an elephant, black and white pants, and white shoes, said the New Jersey State Police in its Amber Alert announcement.
Officials searching for the girl around Bridgeton Park, a 1,500-acre area that includes a lake and the Cohanzick Zoo, called off the effort Tuesday night because of darkness. Before the Amber Alert was issued, they said the search would resume Wednesday.
New Jersey State Police said in the alert: “Detectives believe Dulce was taken by a light-skinned Hispanic male, 5′6” to 5′8″, thin build, no facial hair and facial acne, wearing orange sneakers, red pants and a black shirt.
“The suspect was last seen leading Dulce from the Bridgeton City Park playground to a red van with a sliding side door and tinted windows at approximately 4:20 p.m.” Monday.
Bridgeton police said the girl was with family members at the park before she went missing.
Noema Alavez Perez, the girl’s mother, told NBC10, the child and her 3-year-old brother went to a playground with ice cream while she and an 8-year-old relative remained in the car.
A short time later, the little boy ran back, crying and pointing to some park buildings, Alavez Perez said.
“I thought she was just playing hide-and-seek, that she was playing in the woods,” the mother said.
Alavez Perez said she and other family members looked for the girl for some time before calling police.
Dozens of police and law enforcement volunteers searched the park on foot Tuesday while a State Police helicopter skimmed over the treetops and boats checked the lake.