LAKEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – An autopsy has determined that accidental drowning caused the death of a toddler whose body was found inside a septic tank behind her home, just hours after being reported missing by her mother.
Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said Tuesday that a preliminary investigation found “no indication of foul play or trauma.”
The body of the 2-year-old, who relatives identified only as “J.C.”, was found Monday night after authorities said her parents reported her missing.
Investigators said the little girl had been playing in the yard with her four siblings Monday afternoon when she disappeared.
She was missing about 20 minutes when her mother, Marina Matias, called police and they launched an intense search, bringing in police helicopters, K-9 units and dozens of officers.
After three hours, investigators found a three-foot hole in the backyard leading to an underground septic tank and inside, the little girl’s body.
Public records listed the property’s owners as Catherine and Thomas Feeks of Sunnyside, N.Y. A message left at a number listed under their name was not returned.
A man who said he has rented a room in the house from Matias and her husband said he was surprised that the opening to the septic tank was big enough for the girl, whom he called Jenny, to slip through.
He said the father, whom he identified as Erasmo Castro, holds down two factory jobs and that the mother stayed home to take care of their children, including an infant.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is looking into all the circumstances surrounding the child’s death, including whether the owner of the home could potentially be held liable.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)