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Missing toddler's body found in river

April 26, 2009 2:10:36 PM PDT
The body of a 3-year-old New Jersey girl was found Saturday in the Passaic River, just hours after her uncle left with her and told family members "to watch the 6 o'clock news tonight." Janiay Rievas' body was found around 9:30 a.m., about 1,000 feet from the bridge on the Passaic side of the river, Passaic police spokesman Andy White said. White would not provide other details, including how the girl may have been killed.

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Authorities were searching for 21-year-old Juan Mendez, whose abandoned car was found with its doors open on a bridge over the river.

Mendez had been living in a Passaic home owned by his mother's boyfriend, police said. The girl and her mother - who is Mendez's sister - were also staying there. Police had blocked off a large perimeter around the two-story residence Saturday morning and remained there for several hours.

Police initially thought Mendez jumped into the river, and divers searched the waters for several hours. They ended the search at around 1:30 p.m., and were working on the assumption that Mendez had fled on foot.

White said Mendez had taken the girl from her home at about 6 a.m., telling relatives he wanted to get something to eat. However, family members told police Mendez "left in a rage and said to watch the 6 o'clock news tonight."

He then took a family member's car and left the house.

Some relatives then drove off to look for Mendez a short time later, and they called police after finding his car on the bridge.

Authorities said an Amber Alert was issued after the pair were reported missing.

The bridge was closed off after the car was found, and police divers remained at the scene for several hours on Saturday, searching the water in the area of the bridge.


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