Missing 37 Days: NJ Girl’s Family Battles Cynics, Fake GoFundMe Pages
VINELAND — The family of a 5-year-old girl who disappeared five weeks ago warned of fake GoFundMe pages as they announced another search this weekend.
Dulce Maria Alavez vanished from a playground at Bridgeton City Park as she played with her 3-year-old brother on Sept. 16.
Dulce was last seen walking toward a red van with a man at Bridgeton City Park, according to a young witness who spoke to police. A State Police Amber Alert remains active and she remains on the FBI's Most Wanted kidnapping and missing persons list.
Dulce's grandmother, Norma Pérez, said through family spokeswoman and translator Jackie Rodriguez, that the family believes that Dulce will be found alive. The family is organizing a search for the second Sunday in a row.
"We will never give up on you, Dulce Maria, and we are asking you, the public, to not give up on her," Rodriguez said.
"We will combing certain areas that have not been searched. We will be going door to door to pass out fliers through the city of Bridgeton and various parts of the towns."
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae released a sketch on Oct. 15 of a potential witness who they would like to speak to about what happened the day Dulce was last seen. McRae stressed that the man is not a suspect. It was the last public statement by Webb-McRae about the case. The prosecutor told New Jersey 101.5 on Wednesday that she had no updates on the case.
This man was reported to have been wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball hat. The man is reported to be a Hispanic, is about 5 feet 7 inches with a slender build and between 30 to 35 years old.
Rodriguez said the family also hopes to get the man in the sketch in front of people who don't have social media.
Rodriguez thanked law enforcement and the community for working on the case 24/7 but said the social media criticism has made it hard for the family to cope.
"It's very difficult. We have the good, we have the bad. We have people who have hope and people who don't have hope. It's hard to just keep positive. It's hard to not lower yourself to the level of the people who are bullying and criticizing. There's a lot of evil out there and it's sad. This family needs help."
"We have a dedicated Trust & Safety team working around the clock to ensure GoFundMe is the safest place to give. When a campaign is created to support another individual, funds are safely held and only transferred to the beneficiary of the campaign. We work with campaign organizers to ensure funds are transferred to the right place," Scripture said.
Rodriguez said there have been several GoFundMe pages set up trying to profit from Dulce's disappearance and are not authorized by the family. GoFundMe spokeswoman Meghan Scripture told New Jersey 101.5 that two fraudulent campaigns that raised a total of $5 were removed and the donation refunded.
Information about Dulce can provided to the FBI at 800-225-5324 and then selecting option 4, then option 8, or reported anonymously by calling the Bridgeton's TIP 411 text service by texting "Bridgeton" plus the tip to 847411.