Trista Reynolds, center, and Justin DePietro, right, parents of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds, talk with media during a vigil in Castonguay Square in Waterville Saturday.
By BEN McCANNA and AMY CALDER Morning Sentinel
WATERVILLE — Police said Saturday that the three adults who last saw toddler Ayla Reynolds are withholding information and that the possibility that someone slipped into the house and took Ayla “doesn’t pass the straight-face test.”
The comments came the same day that police confirmed blood was found in the basement of the house at 29 Violette Ave. during a search several weeks ago.
Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said police believe the three adults – Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro, 24, his sister, Elisha DiPietro, 23, and his girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, 24 – have information that they have not given police that could lead to Ayla’s whereabouts.
“There were three adults in the home, and their version of events is not backed up by any forensic evidence that we have located,” McCausland said Saturday afternoon. “That someone slipped into the home in the middle of the night, while three adults are there ... that someone went into the bedroom where Ayla was sleeping alone, removed her and vanished into the night – and that the three adults did not see or hear anything – doesn’t pass the straight-face test.”
McCausland said Maine State Police have taken several hundred pieces of potential evidence from the DiPietro home, including the blood, which was discovered during a full-scale investigation in late December.
“We find the discovery of the blood troubling, and it’s also frustrating that we think the three adults in the home that night haven’t told us everything they know,” he said.
McCausland added that police don’t yet know whose blood it is, but it is being analyzed in the state police crime laboratory in Augusta. He said he wouldn’t discuss how much blood had been found or how it was discovered.
At a vigil for his daughter Saturday afternoon, Justin DiPietro wouldn’t comment on the discovery.
“I’m not going to answer any questions about it, but I will say this: If there was something there, I don’t think I’d be standing here with you right now,” he said.
Ayla’s grandmother, Phoebe DiPietro, also wouldn’t discuss the discovery.
“Personally, I do not believe anything happened to Ayla other than she was taken,” she said. She owns the Violette Avenue house, but was not there the night Ayla disappeared.
Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, said at a vigil Saturday afternoon that she was trying to process the information about the blood.
In an interview earlier in the day with the Morning Sentinel, she said she was preparing herself for any outcome.
“As a mother, as a parent, you need to mentally prepare yourself for the good, the bad, the worst,” she said. “I have been preparing myself for all of it during the last 40 days. I have told myself anything can happen. I could get the greatest news or I could get the worst news ever.”
At the vigil, DiPietro and Reynolds, appearing together for the first time in public since their daughter disappeared, hugged, stood together for photos and later had a lengthy private conversation on the City Hall steps, away from the crowd. The meeting was in sharp contrast to the animosity in comments made by the pair since Ayla’s disappearance.
The vigil in Castonguay Square outside City Hall drew more than 60 people, including friends, family members and supporters of the parents.
During the two-hour vigil, which started at noon, word spread about the blood found in the house.
“This is my prayer – that she’s found alive,” said Selena Johnson of Augusta, sister of Justin DiPietro’s mother, Phoebe DiPietro.
Johnson learned about the blood in the basement at the vigil.
“I don’t know how to feel, other than that I really want to talk to my family,” she said tearfully. She and her sister were later seen hugging.
She added that her sister’s advice to her was not to read the news reports about Ayla’s disappearance.
“She said she’s going to give her faith to God and the FBI,” Johnson said.
Trista Reynolds arrived with her mother, Becca Hanson, and stepfather, Jeff Hanson, and immediately was swarmed by reporters.
Trista Reynolds said she was at the vigil to thank all of the people supporting her and her family. Then she asked reporters to leave her alone.
“I don’t have the answers that you guys are looking for,” she said.
She greeted and hugged supporters and intermittently cried, wiping away tears.
“I want to know where she is and who took her,” she said at one point.
Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Amy Calder can be contaced at 861-9247 or at:
Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be contaced at 861-9239 or at: