WATERVILLE – Justin DiPietro says he wants to end widespread speculation about his missing daughter’s broken arm by talking publicly about it.

“I know what the truth is, and it’s unbelievable for people to make the accusations that they’ve made,” said DiPietro, whose 21-month-old daughter, Ayla Reynolds, has been missing for three weeks.

She was last seen wearing green one-piece pajamas and a soft splint on her left arm.

Waterville Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey said police did extensive interviews on Dec. 17, the day DiPietro reported Ayla missing, and believe there is nothing suspicious about the broken arm.

“That was completely accidental,” DiPietro said of Ayla’s injury. “I would never harm my daughter.”

DiPietro, 24, said the accident occurred on a rainy night in November, but he’s unsure of the date.

He had just returned from the grocery store with Ayla. He went into his mother’s home on Violette Avenue with bags of groceries in one arm and Ayla in the other.

“I was carrying her,” he recalled in an interview Thursday with the Morning Sentinel.

He walked in the side door at 29 Violette Ave. and up a short set of stairs leading into the kitchen.

“I came up the stairs and slipped. It happened so fast, I don’t know exactly how I fell on her, but I fell on her,” he said. “It’s burned into my brain.”

His mother, Phoebe DiPietro, 47, was in the next room.

“I was sitting in the living room with my daughter, and we heard a big thump,” she said Thursday. “I immediately went to the kitchen and Ayla was scared, obviously. I picked her up.”

Phoebe DiPietro said Justin’s wrist was injured in the fall, but Ayla appeared to be OK.

The family sat down for a lasagna dinner, then put Ayla into pajamas for the night.

“She was a little fussy here and there, but if you’d seen her, you wouldn’t have known anything was wrong with her,” Justin DiPietro said.

The next day, as DiPietro was leaving to attend a commercial driver’s license course at Lawrence Adult Education in Fairfield, Phoebe DiPietro called him back into the house.

“She showed me Ayla’s hand and it was swollen,” he said.

Ayla wasn’t crying, Phoebe DiPietro said, so the family considered what to do.

DiPietro considered skipping his class, but his mother advised against it.

“I was, like, ‘We have to bring her to the emergency room,’ and she said, ‘Well, she’s fine right now.’“

Phoebe DiPietro said the injury appeared to be a bad bruise. During the day, however, she noticed the full extent of Ayla’s swelling after looking under the toddler’s sleeve.

Justin DiPietro said he left class early because he was concerned about Ayla. “When I got home, we went to the emergency room,” he said.

DiPietro said the staff initially thought Ayla had a deep-tissue bruise.

“I said, ‘Can we still do X-rays?’ And they said, ‘We’re still going to,’” he recalled.

A doctor told DiPietro that Ayla’s forearm was broken, that it might require surgery and Ayla would need to see a specialist.

DiPietro chose Dr. James Kuhn at MaineOrtho in Portland.

“He looked over the X-rays, and said, ‘I don’t know what they told you initially, but this isn’t as bad as they said,’” DiPietro said. “They just put a splint on there with an Ace bandage.”

DiPietro said Ayla’s arm was healing well in the days before she disappeared.

“She wasn’t bending it, but she would take (the splint) off sometimes, and she was getting to the point where she was starting to use that arm again,” he said.

Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, has made several television appearances since the girl was last seen, and questioned DiPietro’s parenting in the weeks leading up to the disappearance.

DiPietro said he’s aware of several widely held beliefs about the broken arm.

For instance, he said, some people have questioned the time between when the injury happened and when they went to the hospital.

He said some people have suggested that he didn’t take Ayla to the hospital immediately because he may have been intoxicated at the time. He said that’s untrue.

DiPietro said that if he had known Ayla’s injury was more than a bruise, he would have skipped his class. “The class, the money, that wouldn’t have mattered to me,” he said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

[email protected]