August 10, 2013

UPDATE: Father of missing toddler speaks for first time

By Doug Harlow

Updated at 9:20 p.m.

Justin DiPietro

Justin DiPietro statement

First, I'd like to thank everyone involved for their continued support in finding our daughter, Ayla.

I have no idea what happened to Ayla, or who is responsible. I will not make accusations or insinuations towards anyone until the police have been able to prove who's responsible for this.

Ayla was in my sole custody at the time of her disappearance per agreement between her mother and I because she was temporarily unable to care for Ayla. I have shared every piece of information possible with the police. Contrary to some statements floating around out there, I have been in communication with Ayla's mother over the last couple of weeks. The Waterville police have the transcripts from my phone for verification of those communications.

It has always been my intention to have a shared parenting arrangement with Ayla's mother and I will continue to work towards that when Ayla is returned to us.

My family and friends will continue to do everything we can to assist in this investigation and to get Ayla back home.

We appreciate the media respecting our privacy at this time. If anyone has any information that might be helpful, please contact Waterville police at 207-680-4700.

WATERVILLE — The father of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds said Tuesday night he has no idea what happened to his daughter.

In a statement released through the Waterville Police Department, Justin DiPietro said, “I will not make accusations or insinuations towards anyone until the police have been able to prove who is responsible for this.”

The 20-month-old disappeared sometime Friday night or Saturday morning from the home she shared with her father at 29 Violette Ave.

“Ayla was in my sole custody at the time of her disappearance per agreement between her mother and I, because she was unable to care for Ayla,” he said in the statement, his first public comment since he reported Ayla missing. “I have shared every piece of information with the police.”

He also disputed reports that he and Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, who lives in Portland, didn’t talk after Ayla went to live with him.

“Contrary to some statements floating around out there, I have been in communication with Ayla’s mother over the last couple of weeks. The Waterville police have transcripts from my phone for verification of those communications.”

“It has always been my intention to have a shared parenting arrangement with Ayla’s mother and I will continue to work towards that when Ayla is returned to us.”

He said that his family and friends “will continue to do everything we can to assist in this investigation and to get Ayla back home.”

Earlier Tuesday, a section of Messalonskee Stream near the home where the missing toddler lived with DiPietro was drained overnight as investigators continued to look for clues to her disappearance.

Investigators also examined Dumpsters, garages, backyards, ball fields and wooded areas near the Violette Avenue home.

Messalonskee Stream, a few blocks from the house, was drained so the Maine Warden Service could walk the banks, Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey told reporters Tuesday afternoon. He said it was also to make visibility better for the warden service’s airplane flyover.

As the search entered its fourth day, investigators remained closed-lipped on what they might have found. Overnight temperatures have dipped into the low teens and single numbers since the toddler disappeared overnight Friday or Saturday morning.

Massey said his department, the warden service and the FBI are intensifying efforts to find the child. The FBI is conducting a “knock and talk” campaign on nearby streets looking for answers.

“It’s still a missing child case,” Massey said. “I’m not going to speculate on whether she’s alive or when she might come home. We need to follow the logical conclusion of a logical sequence of events. We’ve ruled nothing out, so I don’t want to stand here and speculate.”

Massey said Ayla’s parents, 24-year-old DiPietro and her mother, Trista Reynolds, 23, are cooperating. He would not discuss who else was in the house Friday night, whether foul play is suspected or if there was blood or any other forensic evidence found in the house or garage.

He would not say if police have any suspects in the girl’s disappearance, nor would he discuss alibis given to police by those who have been interviewed.

Massey would not say why police seized two vehicles on Monday — one of them registered to DiPietro — or what authorities might be looking for in those vehicles.

(Continued on page 2)

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