Sunday, March 9, 2014
By BEN McCANNA Morning Sentinel
WATERVILLE – The family of Ayla Reynolds' father has reopened communication with investigators -- a step that police are calling positive.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland answers questions from media about the ongoing investigation in to the search for missing toddler, Ayla Reynolds, during a news conference at the Forum in downtown Waterville on Friday.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seaman
EVENTS FOR AYLA
• The Shining Hope for Ayla event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Riverton Community Center, 1600 Forest Ave., Portland, and includes food, beverages, a silent auction, door prizes and a flying lantern release. For more information, contact Cynthia Caron, president and founder of LostNMissing at 603-965-4621 or 603-548-6548.
• Peace for Ayla will feature caroling and a candle-lit walk. It begins at 6 p.m. Monday at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 36 Cool St., in Waterville. Participants will walk along Violette Avenue, the street where Ayla lived before she disappeared, and sing Christmas songs.
Meanwhile, the family's attorney said the DNA evidence that was found in the missing toddler's home might not be blood.
Police spoke in November with Ayla's father, Justin DiPietro; her aunt Elisha DiPietro; and her grandmother Phoebe DiPietro, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, during a news conference Friday.
"I'm not going to disclose what was discussed, but it was a frank conversation," he said. "So there has been some renewed communication."
When asked whether the conversation changed the course of the investigation, McCausland said no.
"We wanted to give them an update, and we were very frank in the information we shared with them," he said. "I viewed the meeting with the DiPietros as positive."
In March, McCausland announced that communication between police and Justin DiPietro had "basically stopped."
Steve Bourget, the Augusta attorney who represents Elisha DiPietro and Phoebe DiPietro, agreed with McCausland that the meeting was a positive step.
"It brought hope back to this family that the police were working for them and not against them," Bourget said by phone Friday. "The family is still hoping for the safe return of Ayla alive."
Bourget said that when police met with his clients, they presented the family with the physical evidence they had, including the revelation that DNA evidence that police found in the basement of the toddler's home might not be blood.
"The DNA was a match to Ayla, but it wasn't necessarily blood," Bourget said.
When reached by phone Friday afternoon, McCausland said he had "no reaction" to Bourget's statement.
In January, police announced that they had found an undisclosed amount of blood in the basement of the home.
Friday's news conference was held to serve as a recap of the yearlong investigation into Ayla's disappearance. Justin DiPietro reported the girl missing on Dec. 17, 2011.
McCausland initially said he would reveal no new developments in the case, but midway through a question-and-answer session with reporters, he announced the change in communication with the family.
McCausland added that police had communicated with Ayla's mother, Trista Reynolds, on Thursday, and that investigators plan to meet with her "in the coming days."
"We will share with her as much information as we can, as we've continued to do throughout the year," he said.
The news conference also featured a new voice. Maine State Police Detective Jeffrey Love, who often has been in the background at similar briefings, made an appeal for more tips.
"A significant component of this investigation is the leads," Love said. "We would like the public to forward any relevant information they feel would be beneficial to investigators. As time passes, please remember that it's important to keep looking and listening."
State police have followed up on 1,300 tips from 40 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and Canada. Love said all tips are followed, some by municipal police departments throughout Maine and the rest of the country.
"Some leads are closed out within hours. Some take days, weeks or even months," he said.
McCausland said tips from psychics are not wanted.
"Not one piece of information offered (from psychics) -- although it's well-meaning -- has amounted to anything, and so the psychics need not call any longer," he said.
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