Home ┬╗ Unsolved Cases ┬╗ Dulce Alavez, mysterious letters, and a possible family abduction

Dulce Alavez, mysterious letters, and a possible family abduction

Dulce Alavez was only five years old when she disappeared. The case involves many mysteries, and various theories suggest the involvement of the mother in the abduction.

Dulce Maria Alavez was born on April 25, 2014 in New Jersey, USA. The girl was five years old at the time of the case. Her mother, Noema Alavez Perez, became pregnant with Dulce when she was just fourteen years old.

Noema shared custody of Dulce with her mother. Her maternal grandmother took an active part in caring for her granddaughter and they all lived under the same roof. When the little girl was two years old, Noema became pregnant again, this time with a baby boy called Manoel.

Dulce’s father was not present. He even doubted the child’s paternity, but later grew fond of her and then returned to Mexico.

Background

In the fall of 2014, Dulce began her school life in kindergarten. Dulce’s aunt, her mother’s sister, was only 8 years old and it was common for the two of them to go to school alone by bus.

A few months later, Noema discovered that she was pregnant again. She and her current boyfriend planned to rent a room in a nearby house while Dulce and Manoel would remain in their grandmother’s care.

Disappearance

On September 16, 2019, Noema and her three-year-old son Manoel were waiting for the girls to get off the school bus in front of their house. On that day, she had planned for everyone to have ice cream and then play in the park.

They drove to the park and stopped at a convenience store where they bought ice cream and some lottery tickets. Security cameras recorded the moment when Noema and the three children entered the store and made their purchases.

Dulce Alavez. / Photo: Facebook.

A few minutes later, the family arrived at the Bridgeton City Park & Zoo, a place known for being wooded, having beautiful lakes and a large open area for children to play in. As soon as they parked, Dulce and Manoel took off running towards the park’s rides while Noema and her sister kept scratching their lottery tickets.

Noema could see them from the car, until she looked out of the window and no longer noticed her children. She immediately got out of the car and went to a swing that was further away, believing that the children would be there.

When she got closer, she noticed that Manoel had dropped his ice cream on the floor and was crying, but Dulce wasn’t around. The mother asked the boy where his sister was and he just pointed his finger in the direction of some of the surrounding buildings.

Noema began to believe that Dulce might be playing hide and seek in the park, calling her name. Children playing in the park said that a Hispanic man was walking alone in the park and that there had also been a red minivan parked on the sidewalk a few minutes earlier.

The mother called her brother and asked him to take the family dog to the site to help look for Dulce, but they were unsuccessful. At 4:50 p.m., Noema notified the New Jersey police about the disappearance.

Searches begin

The authorities, together with community search parties, combed the park for any trace of Dulce. Security camera footage from the convenience store confirmed Noema’s version of events.

Security camera footage shows Dulce choosing ice cream with her mother, brother and aunt / Photo: Reproduction.

On September 17, an Amber Alert was issued. The male suspect was described as Hispanic, thin, and between 30 and 35 years old. He had a goatee and acne spots on his chin, wore a white T-shirt and cap, and was wearing jeans.

AMBER Alert is a child abduction alert system that originated in the United States in 1996. It serves to notify as many people as possible that a child is missing and provides as much information and characteristics as possible so that they can be found.

More than 100 police officers were mobilized in the case, sniffer dogs and even a helicopter were used in the search. Dulce’s father was investigated and located in Mexico; he was immediately ruled out as a suspect.

Dulce’s disappearance was widely publicized throughout the country through the Amber Alert / Photo: Reproduction.

The investigation turned to the family, and the police then went on to investigate Noema’s current boyfriend, Edgar. While examining his record, they discovered that he was living illegally in the USA.

Police pressure prevented people from the community, who were also illegal, from providing more information. The officers had to declare that at the moment nothing was more important than finding Dulce, and that immigration issues would be ignored for the time being.

Maternal behavior

Dulce’s family made several statements to the police and the press. Noema’s behavior came to the attention of the community, as she always seemed cold and indifferent to the case. She even said several times that this was her way of dealing with things.

Noema Alavez. / Photo: Reproduction.

In one of the interviews, a journalist asks Noema what she would say to the kidnapper and she says: “Dulce was just an innocent child, and that she had nothing to do with any problems they had now or in the past.”

The statement intrigued many people, as Noema was being very direct and assertive in the words she used. From this point on, various theories emerged that the family could have been involved in the kidnapping.

Anonymous letters

In February 2020, anonymous handwritten letters began appearing in Ohio businesses. In one of these letters, addressed to a public library, there was a lot of information about the Dulce Alavez case that could easily be found by searching the internet.

A second letter, in the form of a postcard and addressed to a casino manager in Austintown, said that the police should look for information at one of the exits on Interstate Highway 76.

The handwriting matched that of the first letter and the police conducted a serious search of the area, unfortunately without success. A third letter was sent to an ice cream parlor, the sender’s address was erased but it was possible to see that it had originated in Culiac├ín, Mexico.

Although there was no postmark, security cameras were able to catch a letter carrier delivering it normally on the spot. Rodriguez, who acted as the family’s spokesperson, also received an envelope with a Cleveland postmark that contained 7 pieces of paper inside.

There were several words scribbled on them and the police were able to decipher some of them: “Alaska”, “Mexico”, “frontier”, “1776”, “civil war”, “New England town” and “children’s orphanage”. After this episode, Rodriguez stepped down as spokesperson.

Dulce’s father?

A man who identified himself as Dulce’s father posted a video on You Tube on April 25, 2021, the date of the victim’s seventh birthday. The video shows several photos of Dulce and is narrated by a man.

During the photos that appear, the man never shows his whole body or any part of his face and some people have commented that Dulce looks much older in some images. Even thinner and taller.

The most intriguing thing is that in some images you can see a red mini van parked in the background. On September 14, 2023, forensic investigators were able to construct an age progression image of Dulce’s face.

Dulce’s face at the age of 9, according to forensic investigators. / Photo: Reproduction.

After the new image was revealed, the police received 12 complaints, some of which reported sightings and others just information. One of them turned out to be false and the others are still being investigated, the police said at the time.

So far nothing promising has been found about the Dulce Alavez case and there is a reward of 75,000 dollars for any information.

Possible theories

The strongest theory regarding the case is that Dulce was kidnapped by a man while playing in the park, but this theory also leaves many loose ends since there were many people at the site that day, and it’s quite strange that nobody noticed Dulce being taken or even lured into the red minivan.

Dulce was eating ice cream, and if she had been forcibly grabbed, it’s possible that the food would have fallen to the ground, leaving some clue. However, no trace of the ice cream or its packaging was ever found.

When Noema found Manoel, he was crying and merely pointed in the direction of the buildings. Many people believe that the little boy knows exactly what happened but either didn’t want to speak or was intimidated not to.

One of the most controversial theories involves a family abduction. Noema always took the family dog to the park, even because it was protective and used to playing with the children. So why didn’t she take it that day?

Noema’s statement to the press also suggests some family conflict and implies that the mother may know exactly who took her daughter and why it happened.

The last theory was that Dulce wandered away from her brother and while walking through the park, she could have fallen into a lake and drowned. While possible, it’s quite rare that nobody saw the child drown or that the body never surfaced.

The police also noted that Noema had the habit of allowing the children to wander off even though they were only three and five years old. The mother was heavily judged for this behavior since it greatly diminished the chance of reacting to any danger to the children.

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