BRIDGETON — A weekend search in Ohio for missing 5-year-old Dulce Alavez is the kind of wild goose chase that wastes time and takes detectives away from developing real leads, authorities say.

Dulce was last seen in Bridgeton City Park Sept. 16 as she played with her 3-year-old brother. More than five months later, authorities including Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb McRae, Bridgeton police, State Police and the FBI have not located the girl.

Bridgeton police chief Michael Gaimari told New Jersey 101.5 that Austintown, Ohio police received several letters including a small map that indicated Dulce's body would be found in a wooded area near the Hollywood casino and race track. A weekend search turned up nothing, according to Gaimari.

It's one of the thousands of tips that have been received by law enforcement over the past five months, according to Gaimari.

"We still receive correspondence from people from throughout the country, whether they be clairvoyants or psychics or people that just have feelings that certain things are happening, or (saying) the child can be located in certain areas," Gaimari said. Investigators then have to review the tip to determine whether there is value in following up.

"It deters the investigators who are working the case because sometimes we have to divert their attention to some of these letters that are received or some of this information that really has no tie to the investigation," Gaimari said.

Gaimari said that despite few leads in the case that would move the investigation forward, detectives from all agencies are driven and dedicated to solve the case because many have children themselves.

"They mention on occasion they put themselves in the position of those family members who are missing this child and they think of their own children which serves as extra motivation," Gaimari said.

Gaimari would not discuss specifics of the investigation.

"I realize that with the time that has elapsed since her disappearance that people tend to grasp on any straw that is provided to them, whether it be an erroneous tip or a psychic revelation, but we still have to direct our investigation on facts as they present themselves to us," Gaimari said.

Anyone with information about Dulce's disappearance should call 800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) option 4, option 8. Information can also be reported to Bridgeton's TIP 411 text service by texting "Bridgeton" plus your tip to 847411.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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