Timeline shows events related to the disappearance of Ayla Reynolds, the 20-month-old daughter of Trista Reynolds, 23, of South Portland and Justin DiPietro, 24, of Waterville.
Thursday, Dec. 15
Mother seeks custody
Trista Reynolds files complaint in Cumberland County District Court seeking full custody of Ayla, who had been in her father’s care since October. That’s when state social workers removed Ayla from Reynolds’ care and she went into a drug-rehabilitation program.
Friday, Dec. 16, 10 p.m.
Ayla’s last sighting
The last time Justin DiPietro sees his daughter, lying in her bed in their Waterville home. She is wearing one-piece pajamas bearing the words “Daddy’s Princess.” Her left arm, broken in an accidental fall three weeks earlier, is in a soft splint and a sling.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 8:51 a.m.
Ayla reported missing
DiPietro finds her bed empty and calls 911 to report Ayla is missing from their Violette Avenue home. Police say she could have been abducted or walked away, but couldn’t “have gone very far.” Waterville police and firefighters search neighborhood. State game wardens join in and conduct flyover. Waterville and Maine State Police detectives look for forensic evidence in DiPietro’s house.
Sunday, Dec. 18
FBI joins search
FBI agents, two police dogs, neighbors and other volunteers join house-to-house and neighborhood search. Game wardens scour the banks of nearby Messalonskee Stream. Police say they’ve interviewed several adults who were in DiPietro’s house when Alya was put to bed Friday night.
Monday, Dec. 19
Mother appears on TV
Police seize two vehicles, one of them registered to DiPietro, and say parents are cooperating with the investigation. Trista Reynolds appears on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and HLN’s Nancy Grace show. Search swells to 70 law enforcement agents, including game wardens, who troll Messalonskee Stream with an airboat and circle the area in an airplane.
Tuesday, Dec. 20
Father releases statement
DiPietro releases statement through Waterville police saying he doesn’t know what happened to Ayla. Investigators drain a section of Messalonskee Stream looking for clues and examine dumpsters, garages, backyards, ball fields and wooded areas near the home. FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team canvasses Waterville neighborhoods. Police say they’ve received more than 100 tips from the public and “it’s still a missing-child case.”
Wednesday, Dec. 21
Search group joins effort
Search expands across Waterville with help from 50 members of the Maine Association for Search and Rescue. Nearly 100 people attend candlelight vigil at local church.
Thursday, Dec. 22
Crime-scene tape goes up
Six days into the search, investigators put crime-scene tape around DiPietro’s house and intensify the search for clues. Two of state’s top homicide prosecutors visit the house. Cadaver dogs join search.
Friday, Dec. 23
Mother blames father
Overnight snow ends large-scale ground seach. Trista Reynolds tells NBC’s “Today” show that she blames DiPietro for not keeping Ayla safe and hopes her daughter will be home for Christmas. Police get media inquiries from across the country as interest in Ayla’s disappearance grows. Dozens gather for candlelight vigil in Congress Square in Portland.
Saturday, Dec. 24
Police seek media break
Waterville police appeal for a break in media coverage so they can do their work “outside the microscope.” Crime-scene evidence tape seals all doors and windows throughout the weekend.
Monday, Dec. 26
Someone took Ayla
Ten days into the investigation, police say they believe someone took Ayla from her home, acknowledging for the first time that they don’t believe she left the house on her own. Community members offer $30,000 reward — the largest ever in Maine. State police Evidence Response Team van is parked in driveway.
Tuesday, Dec. 27
Investigators from four police agencies continue the search and follow up on more than 300 tips, but won’t say whether they have any forensic evidence or suspects in the case.
Wednesday, Dec. 28
Father issues new statement
DiPietro issues a second statement through Waterville police, repeating that he doesn’t know what happened to Ayla and thanking community members for their support. Warden service ends last of large-scale searches.
Thursday, Dec. 29
Mother appears on ‘Today’
Trista Reynolds appears on “Today” show, pleading with DiPietro to communicate with her. Police end regular surveillance of DiPietro’s home.
Friday, Dec. 30
State police take the lead
Police announce “foul play” suspected in what is now a criminal case. State police take lead in investigation, removing a window from house, and Massachusetts detectives join effort.
– From staff reports