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LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Authorities on Tuesday were investigating how a toddler reported missing ended up dead in a septic tank in the backyard of her home near the Jersey shore.

The 2-year-old girl was reported missing by her mother, Marina Matias, shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, which is investigating the death.

Matias told police she could not find her child, identified only by the initials J.C., who had been playing in the yard with her four siblings.

Search teams quickly found a 3-foot wide hole in the yard, which lead to a septic tank. The Public Works Department was called in to pump out water in the tank, and at 7:30 p.m. the body of a child was discovered in the tank.

The discovery of her body ended the hour-long search by township police, an Ocean County Sheriff’s Department canine unit and a state police helicopter.

“The body is believed to be the child reported missing, although at this time that identification has not been made,” Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said in a statement. “The family has been informed and is understandably distraught over this turn of events.”

Michel A. Paulhus, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said that there was no reason to believe that there was a major delay in the mother calling police once she realized her daughter was missing.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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