Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said, in a statement, that police were contacted at 4:49 p.m. by a Lakewood woman, Marina Matias, who reported that she could not find her 2-year-old daughter.
Police and emergency personnel were immediately dispatched to East Spruce Street in Lakewood and conducted a search for the missing girl, only identified by her initials as "J.C."
Neighbors identify the girl as Jeni Castro.
The search teams found a 3-foot wide hole in a nearby yard, which led to the 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 dropped and police and emergency personnel noticed the body of the child in the tank.
"The family has been informed and is understandably distraught over this turn of events," Ford said in the statement.
Ford says the missing child had been playing in the yard with her four siblings when she apparently fell down the hole into the septic tank.
Michael Stewart, of the Department of Public Works, told WABC-TV that the tank was on the property of an abandoned home.
"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."
"We all join in expressing our deep condolences to the family of this child," Prosecutor Ford said.
Michael A. Paulhus, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, told the Associated Press 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.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Sgt. Trujillotovar at (732) 929-2027.