WATERVILLE — A $30,000 reward for information on the whereabouts of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds expires at midnight today.

On Dec. 26 — nine days after Ayla was reported missing from her Violette Avenue home — a group of local businesses and individuals posted the reward. Then, during a May 31 press conference, a spokesman for the group said he and the others decided to withdraw the money in a month.

“We were hoping the reward money would cause someone to come forward and put an end to this ordeal,” attorney John Nale said.

But, so far, it hasn’t happened.

Ayla’s mother Trista Reynolds said Friday she was holding out hope that someone would come forward with information and collect the money. It’s telling that no one has, she said.

“I honestly feel that if Ayla was really kidnapped, someone would want that $30,000, especially if they knew it was running out,” she said.

On Dec. 17, Ayla was reported missing by her father, Justin DiPietro. He contends Ayla was abducted. Police say a kidnapping did not happen and Ayla’s blood was found in the basement of 29 Violette Ave. During the May 31 press conference, Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland said investigators believe Ayla is likely dead. No suspects have been named.

Reynolds said McCausland’s announcement has made the past 30 days difficult for her.

“It’s killing me,” she said. “It hurts. It hurts so bad to know my little girl is probably never coming back to me.”

Reynolds said investigators recently told her they’re not giving up, she said.

“They told me to hang on, to have as much faith as I can,” she recalled. “I’m trying. I’m trying to keep my faith, but it’s really hard when there’s nothing positive to keep my faith up.”

McCausland said police continue to receive tips from the public throughout June. He added that the vast majority of those were phoned in by self-described psychics.

Despite the expiration of the reward, the investigation will continue, McCausland said.

“The reward had no play in our investigation whatsoever. The investigation would have proceeded to this point whether there had been a reward or not,” he said. “We’re very thankful to John Nale and the other business-people who came forward with the money, but it has not affected the investigation up to this point and it will not from this point onward.”

Nale said Friday he wanted to renew his exact plea from the May 31 press conference, which he crafted to appeal to the conscience, guilt and sense of humanity of anyone involved in Ayla’s disappearance.

“To the person, or persons, responsible for her disappearance, we ask that you now come forward,” Nale said in May. “Accept responsibility for what you have done. Show us that you are human, and relieve yourselves, Ayla’s family and this community of this burden. For surely, your voluntary acts of admission will far outweigh your continued acts of silence and denial.”

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

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