The body of a 3-year-old New Jersey girl was found in the Passaic River, just hours after her uncle left with her and told family members "to watch the 6 o'clock news tonight".

Passaic police spokesman Andy White said Janiay Rievas' body was found around 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

But authorities were still searching Saturday afternoon for 21-year-old Juan Mendez, whose abandoned car was found with its doors open on the Gregory Avenue Bridge, which spans the river.

Mendez had been living with family members in Passaic, but it wasn't immediately clear if he and the girl lived in the same residence.

White said Rievas was found about 1,000 feet from the bridge on the Passaic side of the river.

He said Mendez had taken the girl from her home at about 6 a.m., telling relatives he wanted to get something to eat.