Authorities say a Lakewood toddler who went missing from her home and was found dead in a septic tank was not the victim of foul play.

The Ocean County Prosecutor's  Office has ruled the death of 2-year-old J.C. an accidental drowning. However, many question remain about what led to the death.

The top of the septic tank was found open but no one knows why. Michael Stewart, of the Department of Public Works, tells WABC TV that, "nobody lives there."

A three-hour search led to the open tank. "It was like it was uncovered, a square, about a foot-and-a-half to two-foot," Stewart said. "It was uncovered, and it was full of straight human sewage."


The discovery ended a roughly three-hour search by township police, an Ocean County Sheriff's Department canine unit and a State Police helicopter which began when Marina Matias called police because she could not find her daughter.

According to Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford, “The search teams found a small approximately 3-foot-wide hole in the yard, apparently to a septic tank, and called in the Lakewood Township Public Works Department to pump out the water in the tank. At approximately 7:30 p.m. the water level had been dropped and police and emergency personnel unfortunately made visual observation of the body of a child in that tank."

The toddler, identified as J.C.,  had been playing in the yard on East Spruce Street with her four siblings, according to Ford, when she fell down the hole.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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