A massive search — and a wave of worry — for missing 5-year-old girl in South Jersey

A massive search — and a wave of worry — for missing 5-year-old girl in South Jersey

BRIDGETON, N.J. – during the El Paisano tortilla factory, the reassuring aroma of baking bread can’t mask the dread which has enveloped this rural river city.

“Everybody’s spooked, ” said owner Ivan Lucero, 32.

This poor, mostly Latino community of about 25,000 people has turned somber, suddenly a place where parents keep intense watch over their children, whether the kids are munching a burger at McDonald’s or awaiting a school bus at a street corner in the space of three weeks — since 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez disappeared from a playground, possibly taken by a man in a red van.

“Our kids come house from college — ‘Mom, any kind of updates? ’” stated Lucero’s spouse, Esmeralda, 29.

Their Tortilleria el Paisano contributed $5,000 toward an incentive, now at $40,000, for information that may assist unlock the secret. Every opportunity he gets, Ivan delivers his drone in to the sky to locate woodlands and pond banking institutions. Read more