WATERVILLE — Unable to find any evidence missing toddler Ayla Reynolds was abducted, police today pressed the three adults who were home with her on the night she disappeared to provide a full account of what happened.
State and local detectives believe Justin DiPietro, the girl’s father, and two other adults know more than they’ve told investigators so far, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The notion that someone slipped into the small house and took Ayla without awakening anyone “doesn’t pass the straight-face test,” McCausland said.
“We’ve followed every conceivable piece of evidence that would follow their version of events, and we have found not one piece of evidence that supports an abduction,” he told The Associated Press.
Police confirmed Sunday night that Ayla’s blood was found in the partially finished basement that DiPietro used as his bedroom. Relatives reported on a family-run website that they were told the blood was “more than a small cut would produce,” but police declined to say how much blood was discovered.
DiPietro reported Ayla missing on Dec. 17, telling police he’d put his 20-month-old daughter to bed the night before and she wasn’t there the next morning.
On the night Ayla was last seen, DiPietro was in the home with his girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, and they slept with Roberts’ child in the basement, McCausland said. DiPietro’s sister was with her young child on the main level of the one-story home, and Ayla was in a bedroom by herself, also on the main level, McCausland said Monday. DiPietro’s mother was not home that night.
McCausland said detectives weren’t singling out any of the three adults, but “we think they know more than they’re telling us,” he said.
Justin DiPietro declined to comment today, brushing past an Associated Press reporter outside his house without addressing questions before going inside and emphatically closing the door. The AP couldn’t find phone numbers for his girlfriend or his sister.
Ayla was placed in her father’s care while her mother, Trista Reynolds, was in a substance abuse rehabilitation program in Lewiston.
When she disappeared, the blond, blue-eyed toddler was wearing green pajamas with the words “Daddy’s Princess” on the front. One of her arms was in a soft cast after being broken in what police said was an accident.
In Portland, Ayla’s maternal grandfather, Ronald Reynolds, said he took the day off from work today because he couldn’t concentrate after incessant news reports. He said that he tries to stay positive but that negative thoughts sometimes creep into his thinking. Every night, he said, he gazes at Ayla’s photo before going to bed.
“I look at her and wonder why, why, why would anyone want to hurt that little girl?” he said, before angrily addressing Ayla’s father in Waterville. “He was supposed to protect her. He didn’t even do that.”
In Waterville, residents seemed perplexed by the developments, which came after massive searches by game wardens, police, the FBI and divers. Searchers went so far as to drain some local streams as part of their search.
The family-run website, www.aylareynolds.com, issued an appeal for anyone with information about Ayla to come forward.
“Even in light of this evidence we are more determined than ever to find out what has happened to Ayla and we still cling to the hope that she is alive and will be returned to us,” the website said. “We urge anyone that has information about Ayla to come forward now and unburden yourself of the truth.”
Ronald Reynolds added a personal appeal, saying the family has been through too much and needs to know what happened.
“Right now I feel so helpless,” the former Marine said. “Enough is enough. I’m tired of it. Someone ought to have enough guts to stand up to the plate and say where she is so we can have closure. If for some reason my little girl is not with us, then we need to bring her home.”
Associated Press writer David Sharp contributed to this report.