December 19, 2011

Search for missing toddler continues

The FBI has been called in to assist state and local police and the Maine Warden Service in the search for 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds.

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

and John Richardson
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — Search parties combed a Waterville neighborhood Sunday, but as evening fell they still had not found a found a 20-month-old girl reported missing Saturday morning.

click image to enlarge

WATER SEARCH: Searchers in a Maine Warden Service airboat motor on the ice-covered Messalonskee Stream in Waterville on Monday in search of missing 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds. The search area was concentrated below the dam near Western Avenue, a short distance from Reynold's home on Violette Avenue.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

Additional Photos Below

Facebook pages on missing Ayla Reynolds

Police have scheduled a press conference at 2 p.m. today.

Ayla Reynolds, dressed only in pajamas and wearing a soft cast from a broken arm, was last seen sleeping in her bed at 8 p.m. Friday, Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey told reporters at a news conference Sunday afternoon. The FBI has been called in to assist state and local police and the Maine Warden Service in the search.

Two search dogs, one from the Warden Service and one from Maine State Police, were at the house where the toddler lives for much of the day Sunday.

Ayla was reported missing from her Violette Avenue home by her father, Justin DiPietro, about 9 a.m. Saturday, when he found her bed empty. The girl’s mother, Trista Reynolds, is living in the Portland area without a permanent address, Massey said. Both parents have been interviewed and are cooperating with the investigation, he said.

Several adults were at the home Friday night when Ayla went to bed. At least one of them was not a family member, he said.

Massey said “everything is on the table,” and abduction has not been ruled out.

“We covered quite a large area up there. Unfortunately we were not successful in finding little Ayla,” he told reporters. “That is our primary focus, to find a 20-month-old little girl who now has been missing at least 40-45 hours and bring her home safely.”

Ayla was last seen wearing green one-piece pajamas with polka dots and the words “Daddy’s Princess” on them. She is 2 feet 9 inches tall, has short, thin blond hair, and weighs approximately 30 pounds. Her left arm is in a sling and soft splint.

Massey would not say if a door had been left open at the house or if there had been any uninvited entries into the house. He said Ayla broke her arm in an accidental fall three weeks ago.

Massey said investigators have interviewed everyone who was in the house that night.

Ayla Reynolds’ mother and maternal grandparents waited in the Portland area Sunday for any news about the girl.

“It’s just so hard for me to sit back and not do anything,” said Ronald Reynolds of Portland, Ayla’s grandfather. “I’m crawling out of my skin right now. She’s the apple of my eye.”

The toddler had lived in Portland with her mother and grandmother until mid-October, said Becca Hanson, Ayla’s grandmother. The grandparents, who are not married and have separate addresses, said Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services had removed Ayla from her mother’s care in October. The maternal grandparents criticized the agency, although no details about the action were available Sunday.

Hanson was staying with Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, in a South Portland motel Sunday as the search continued in Waterville.

“This is the worst thing of all because she doesn’t know where her daughter is at,” Hanson said. “I’m hoping that they call us soon and say they found her.”

Hanson said Trista Reynolds was not able to talk to the media. Trista Reynolds also has a 9-month-old son who is living with her at the South Portland motel, Hanson said.

Ayla’s grandparents described her as a bright, happy girl.

“Ayla started walking when she was 10 months old,” Hanson said. “She’s a really outgoing child. She always had a smile on her face.”

Ayla loves her little brother, Hanson said. “She tries to give him his bottle and his binky. They’re like two peas in a pod.”

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by David Leaming COMMAND: Waterville Fire Chief Dave LaFountain, center, direct firefighters before an extensive search Sunday for missing 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds near her home on Violette Avenue in Waterville.

click image to enlarge

Map showing the location of 29 Violette Ave. in Waterville


Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)