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."
The search teams found a 3-foot wide hole in the yard, which led to the septic tank, and called in the Lakewood Township Public Works Department to pump out the water in the tank.
Ford says 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.
"We all join in expressing our deep condolences to the family of this child," Ford said.