WATERVILLE — The family of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds plans to bring a lawsuit against the adults who were with her on the night she disappeared in December 2011, but one of those adults said in a TV interview Monday they believe the child is still alive “out there somewhere.”

Jeff Hanson, Reynolds’ stepgrandfather, said Monday the family wants to pursue civil charges that would possibly include child endangerment and wrongful death against Reynold’s father, Justin DiPietro; his girlfriend, Courtney Roberts; and his sister, Elisha DiPietro, whose care Ayla was in the night before she was reported missing, as well as Justin’s mother, Phoebe DiPietro, in whose house they all lived.

Ayla was 20 months old when she disappeared from the DiPietro home at 29 Violette Ave. in Waterville and there have never been any charges in the case.

Justin DiPietro told police he believes Ayla was abducted. Police have said they believe foul play was involved in her disappearance and that they no longer believe she is alive. Police declared it a criminal case weeks after she was reported missing.

Elisha DiPietro, who has made few statements to the media since the disappearance of her niece, said in an interview with the television show “Crime Watch Daily,” which aired Monday, that the family “believes she is out there somewhere.”

Reynolds’ blood was found at the Violette Avenue home, according to police, a fact that her maternal family has often pointed to as a reason why charges should be brought.

“We have seen pictures of what (police) found,” Elisha DiPietro told an interviewer on the television show when asked to explain the blood in the house. “She had been vomiting quite a lot. She had lactose issues, so she had been sick.

“Nothing happened. There was no foul play in the house that night,” DiPietro said. “My brother is a good father and he loved his daughter. He still loves her.”

When approached in the driveway of the Violette Avenue home Monday, Elisha DiPietro said she wasn’t aware her comments were going to be broadcast and declined to comment further.

Hanson said the family wants to bring civil charges “because we’ve been waiting for the attorney general to prosecute this case.”

“We’re hoping that maybe by filing a suit now it will open up a line of questioning that the attorney general’s office can use to further their case,” Hanson said.

Tim Feeley, a spokesman for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, said Monday that state police continue to investigate Reynolds’ disappearance, and that if a lawsuit is filed, any information generated could be used in furthering the criminal investigation.

Hanson also said he hopes that the attention of the national television show, “Crime Watch Daily,” would bring renewed interest in the case in Maine.

A vigil for Ayla is tentatively being planned for June.

 


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