Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Amy Calder firstname.lastname@example.org
WATERVILLE — Groups demanding justice in the case of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds are planning a protest Saturday at the police department on Colby Street.
The event, Press for Prosecution Protest, will be held at noon, with protesters gathering at 11:30 a.m., according to organizers.
“It has been 25 months now and there have been no charges filed in the disappearance and death of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds, despite the overwhelming blood evidence found in the father’s home,” an organizer, Heather Garczynski, wrote in an email this week to media outlets, state police, legislators and others.
Ayla has been missing more than two years. Her father, Justin DiPietro, called police Dec. 17, 2011, from their Violette Avenue home, saying she was gone when he checked on her that morning.
More than 20 police searches have turned up no trace of the child.
Ayla was in her father’s care when she disappeared. Her mother, Trista Reynolds, had gone into a drug rehabilitation program in October. She filed for full custody of Ayla Dec. 15, the day before DiPietro said he last saw his daughter.
Investigators have said they believe DiPietro and the other adults in the house that night — his sister, Elisha DiPietro, and his then-girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, know more about her disappearance than they are saying.
In January 2012, members of Ayla’as family said they were told by police blood that was later confirmed to belong to Ayla was found in the basement. Trista Reynolds said in September that police told her shortly after Ayla disappeared that blood was found in multiple locations in the home. Police have not commented on or confirmed that.
Those organizing Saturday’s protest are demanding that the DiPietros and Roberts and anyone else involved in her disappearance be charged and prosecuted, according to Garczynski. She said people are expected to attend from all over Maine and some other states.
Garczynski said Thursday in a telephone interview from her home in Erie, Pa., that she is a grassroots activist educated in criminal justice and is bringing five people to the event, including her children. Garczynski said she plans to speak about why action should be taken in the case.
“Somebody in that house did something to that child,” Garczynski said. “I believe they have probable cause (to charge).”
Jeff Hanson, Trista Reynolds’ stepfather, said Thursday that he and Reynolds, as well as Reynolds’ father, Ronnie Reynolds Sr., plan to attend the protest, although they did not initiate or plan it. They will appear as a way to thank those who continue to press for answers, he said.
Hanson said he wants to make it clear that the protest is not against Waterville police, even though the gathering is planned outside the building.
“Without a doubt, their dedication in Ayla’s case is unquestioned and they’re not the focus in the event,” Hanson said.
Both he and Garczynski said they want the protest to be peaceful.
“It’s going to be nonviolent and we are going to act within the confines of the law,” Garczynski said.
Singer, songwriter, producer Pallaso will perform a tribute song to Ayla entitled “It’s Cold.” Songwriter Al Pouliot is scheduled to perform his piece, “Ayla’s Song.”
An online event also is planned for Tuesday in which participants are asked to call or email the investigators in the case calling for action, Garczynski said.Amy Calder — 861-9247 email@example.com Twitter: @AmyCalder17