Officials in New Jersey have received more than a dozen calls since releasing a composite sketch of a possible eyewitness in the disappearance of 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari said.
Dulce disappeared shortly before 5 p.m. on September 16 at the Bridgeton City Park’s ball fields and playground area. Investigators released a sketch of the possible witness Tuesday, and Gaimari told CNN they received about a dozen calls overnight and several more calls Wednesday.
The girl’s mother, Noema Alavez Perez, said Dulce was playing on the swings with her 3-year-old brother while she sat in her car about 30 yards away with a relative, according to police.
Perez told police the 3-year-old returned to the car without his sister and she could not find Dulce. The 3-foot-5, 40-pound girl has not been seen since.
Investigators on Tuesday released a composite sketch of a man who was reportedly seen in the park around the time she went missing.
“This individual has been reported to have been with one or two children under the age of 5 years old,” the Bridgeton Police Department said in a statement.
He was reported to be wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball-style hat, and is reported to be a Hispanic male between ages 30 to 35 and about 5 feet, 7 inches tall.
The sketch was developed after a witness who recently came forward provided a description, police said.
“We are asking this person (or anyone who may recognize him) to come forward as investigators wish to speak with him as it is believed that he may have information that is helpful in determining the circumstances that led to Dulce’s disappearance,” police said.
Police reiterated they are not calling the man a suspect — he’s simply a possible witness they wish to speak to.
The Amber Alert issued the day after Dulce disappeared described a possible suspect as a Hispanic male between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8, with a thin build, no facial hair and acne on his face. He was wearing orange sneakers, red pants and a black shirt, police said.
It said the man was driving a red van with tinted windows, but officials cautioned that the information came from a “child of tender years.” They said they “will not discount it” and “will not ask the public to disregard it.”
Investigators said they will not question any witness about their immigration status and information may be provided anonymously.
Dulce was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with a koala bear on the front, black and white checkered pants with a flower design, and white sandals, police said.