December 17, 2012

Year later, search for little Maine girl continues

Waters near the Waterville home where Ayla vanished has been a focal point of police searches.

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

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Ayla Reynolds was reported missing from her father’s Waterville home a year ago.

Contributed photo

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Dayton Kidd, 2, of Windham attends the Shining Hope for Ayla event at the Riverton Community Center in Portland with Chris Lewis on Saturday. It was the latest of several events in the past year to remind the public that the little girl is still missing.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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There has been speculation about drug use at the home, that Ayla disappeared before Dec. 17, that DiPietro was in Portland without Ayla on Dec. 15, that Reynolds was seen on Dec. 18 with a child wearing a pink coat.

Reynolds said some of the online speculation hurts.

"If there is truth, it's never the full truth, so it's hard," she said. "I have opened my life and my doors to a whole world. Everyone knows everything about me."


If she were alive today, Ayla Reynolds might be talking up a storm. She might be making friends at day care or the playground.

Her mother thinks about those things often, especially now that her son, Raymond, is 20 months old, the same age as Ayla when she disappeared.

"I give all credit to my son. He's my guardian angel," she said. "There are days when I say 'I don't want to get out of bed,' but I hear him and see his face and I remember this is why I do what I do."

She also wonders whether the Department of Health and Human Services erred in allowing Ayla to be released into her father's custody. She doesn't believe everyone followed the agreed-upon family plan. She doesn't believe caseworkers visited the house and conducted background checks on the people living there.

DHHS workers do not comment on child protective services cases. The answers Reynolds wants can only come from DiPietro. She last communicated with him in August by text message. Nothing new was said.

"I want to see him walking down the street, but then I think, what am I going to say? Would I be angry and lash out or would I just cry?" she said. "Justin's (silence) has just slowly been killing me over the last year."

Reynolds said she's been in regular counseling and has received additional support from a New Hampshire nonprofit called LostNMissing that works with parents of missing children.

"We can never tell a family to just move forward," said Cynthia Caron, the group's director. "We advise them on how to cope, so that they can live in a healthy way. Trista is very strong. She has grown up so much since this happened."

But Caron, despite her years of experience, can't tell the mother how this will end. "We've seen so many cases turn out different than the way they started," she said.

Meanwhile, police keep searching. The water will remain in their sights.

"Obviously, Messalonskee Stream drains into the (Kennebec) River, so both of those have been the focal point of the water searches," McCausland said.

McCausland declined to place any importance on the water other than to say searchers want to be able to eliminate certain locations.

"I don't know why they keep going back to search (the water). Every time I ask, I've never gotten an explanation," Reynolds said. "Do they think she's in there? Do they think they're going to find something?"

Reynolds keeps coming back to DiPietro.

"He's always said that when the timing's right, the truth will come out," she said, referring to early statements DiPietro made to a reporter. "I want to know, why isn't the time right now?"

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell


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Additional Photos

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Trista Reynolds, Ayla’s mother, floats a lantern skyward during the Portland event Saturday. She says Justin DiPietro, Ayla’s father, “could end all of this within seconds if he would just be a father and actually speak for his daughter.”

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer


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