The Pierce County Sheriff's Office says dispatchers were alerted to trouble at about 11 a.m. Wednesday when they received a phone call from the father saying he had killed his daughter.
Deputies rushed to the scene, in the 2400 block of 96th Street South, and found the 26-year-old man in the apartment trying to hang himself with a cord or rope around his neck, says Ed Troyer of the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.
They cut the man down and then found the 2-year-old girl's body inside the apartment.
A preliminary investigation found that the little girl was at her grandparent's house earlier Wednesday morning. The father went there and picked up the child around 9 a.m.
It's not clear what happened over the next two hours, but at 11 a.m. the father called authorities and confessed to killing the little girl, Troyer said. The girl's mother, who lives at the apartment with the father and daughter, was at work at the time.
Troyer said investigators are looking into whether the father was suffering from mental health issues, including a report that he had been released from involuntary commitment after spending a day at a mental ward last month.
He said deputies had responded to the residence on previous occasions when the man made threats.
There were no obvious signs of trauma to the little girl, and Troyer said they believe she was strangled or was suffocated. The cause of death will be determined by the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office.
The father was arrested and is in police custody.
The girl's mother is with a chaplain and is extremely distraught, Troyer said.