From Whispers to Roars

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Friday, March 03, 2006

'Missing' family surfaces in Jersey

'Missing' family surfaces in Jersey

Thursday, March 02, 2006
Star-Ledger Staff

Donivet and Edwin Alvarado appeared happy living with their three children in their home in Valliant, a small rural town in southeastern Oklahoma.

After emigrating from Belize early last year, they ended up in the same town with Donivet's sister, Karina Tucker, and her husband and their five children. All the children played together. The sisters shopped together, and Edwin Alvarado was hired by his brother-in-law to lay tile in his house.

But last Thursday Donivet and Edwin and their children mysteriously disappeared, sparking a nationwide search by law enforcement authorities who believed the family had been abducted.

The search ended yesterday in New Brunswick when police found the family walking calmly to a store on French Street.

Authorities say the family was never abducted, but concocted a story to give their relatives in Oklahoma the slip while they started a new life in New Jersey.

"They just didn't want people here to know where they went," said Deputy Inspector Dale Birchfield of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

The bureau, along with the FBI, immigration authorities and a national organization that aids in locating missing children, had been searching for the family since Monday.

"We've had an around-the-clock command post operating since Monday," Birchfield said. "It's one of the most peculiar things I've ever been involved in."

Authorities say the family left their home Thursday, leaving clothes, cars and keys behind, and boarded a Philadelphia-bound bus.

On Sunday, a frantic Karina Tucker went to her sister's house and found everything that was left. The next day, she discovered the children were not in school. She contacted a sister in Tennessee, who said Donivet Alvarado had called her and said she was being held by immigration authorities.

Karina Tucker then called her mother in Belize, who said Donivet had contacted her, saying she was abducted and the kids were tied up.

That's when Karina Tucker went to police.

While grateful that her sister and her children are safe, Karina Tucker said she has been left with many infuriating questions.

"I love my sister, but I was dead worried about them.

Why did she do this? Why did she say this (about being abducted) to my mother?" Tucker said when reached at home in Oklahoma.

"I've been racking my brain," Tucker said. "My kids were close to her kids. My kids have been crying every night."

New Brunswick police, who picked up the Alvarados about 10:45 a.m. yesterday, said Edwin Alvarado claimed to be unhappy working for his brother-in-law.

Alvarado had lived in New Jersey about two years ago, doing construction work, and he decided to return without telling relatives.

Late last year, the couple left their children with the Tuckers while they came to New Jersey for three weeks, Karina Tucker said.

When they left Thursday with their children, the Alvarados rode buses from Oklahoma to Philadelphia, then to Trenton, and then to New Brunswick, Birchfield said.

"He came out here to make a better life for himself and his family," New Brunswick police Sgt. Richard Rowe said.

In the nearly four-day search for the couple, Birchfield said investigators worked extensively with New Jersey police officers, including South Brunswick police Detective James Ryan.

"He's been a great deal of help," Birchfield said. He said Oklahoma investigators contacted Ryan after tracing one of Donivet Alvarado's cell phone calls to the South Brunswick area.

Ryan said he helped the Oklahoma investigators reach police in several municipalities, including New Brunswick.

Despite the cross-country search, police in New Brunswick and Oklahoma said yesterday no charges would be filed against the Alvarados.

"There are no charges that we can see at this time," Birchfield said.

New Brunswick police said the Alvarados left police headquarters early yesterday afternoon, stating they planned to stay in the South Brunswick area.

Attempts to locate the family yesterday were unsuccessful.

FBI agents were sent to Karina Tucker's home to tell her that her sister was safe. Now Tucker would like to talk with her sister.

"Why didn't she call me?" the tearful sister asked.



  • At Saturday, March 04, 2006 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Home Sweet Home said…

    Someone should make contact with this family and explain to them, just what a family goes through when they have a member missing. They should also tell them what an affect of news of another missing person (or family) does to them.
    I have a feeling it was something more than just family they were running from.


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