Mom aims to draw attention to missing toddler case

WESTBROOK — Frustrated by slow progress in the biggest criminal investigation in Maine's history, the mother of a toddler who vanished in December 2011 is releasing more investigatory details in hopes of calling attention to and solving the mystery of the girl's disappearance.

AP Photo/Clarke Canfield

Trista Reynolds, 25, holds a photo of her 20-month-old daughter, Ayla Reynolds, during an interview with the Associated Press in Westbrook, Maine, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Reynolds, whose daughter went missing in December of 2011, says she's going to release more information she's been told by investigations in hopes of calling attention to the case and bringing it to a resolution.

Trista Reynolds said she believes that releasing the information given to her by state police detectives may be the only way to bring about justice for her daughter Ayla, who was 20 months old when she disappeared from her father's home in Waterville.

"I've been patient," she said Tuesday. "I've waited almost two years now. I've done everything everyone asked. I've been working with state police. I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere, and by releasing this evidence and talking about it, I really feel this is the only way Ayla's case is going to be solved."

Reynolds, 25, revealed last week that state police had told her that her daughter's blood was found on her father's shoes and in his SUV. Investigators previously said that Ayla's blood was found in her father's bedroom.

In the coming days, Reynolds plans to release more details provided by investigators. She also is staging a news conference on the same day the father appears in court on unrelated charges.

The father, Justin DiPietro, previously said he has no idea what happened to his daughter or who is responsible. He couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Bob Lowery from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said what the grieving mother is doing is unusual, but he doesn't fault her for doing what she thinks is right.

"I don't think any of us can understand Trista's pain," Lowery said from the organization's office in Virginia. "She wants answers. That part I do understand. With parents, not knowing what happened in the worst."

DiPietro told police he last saw her when he put her to bed the night of Dec. 16, 2011. He reported her missing the following morning.

The toddler's disappearance set off a massive search with wardens and volunteers combing through the woods and neighborhoods and searching streams. Police and FBI agents went door to door.

The effort grew into the largest criminal investigation in Maine history when police declared that the girl, who has not been found, was believed to be the victim of foul play. They now say they believe she's no longer alive. They have also said the father and two other adults in the house know more than that they're telling.

Reynolds said a state police detective gave her, her boyfriend and his mother details in a January face-to-face briefing. She was pregnant at the time and wasn't ready to discuss what she was told. After giving birth a month ago, she resolved to go public with the information. At this point, she figures it can't hurt.

Reynolds, 25, said she didn't consult with law enforcement about her strategy. State police generally don't discuss investigative details during an active investigation.

"I am her mother and can talk about whatever I want to talk about, release whatever I want to release," she said. "Personally, I don't care how state police feel about what I'm doing. Ayla is my daughter, and this is what I'm going to do."

Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes said it's important to keep families of victims updated on investigations but that law enforcement officials know that means details might be made public.

As for the ongoing investigation, Stokes declined to say how long it could take before law enforcement gets answers.

"I'm confident that over time we will resolve this in the sense that justice will be done for Ayla," he said. "But it's got to be done on the basis of a professional evaluation of the evidence and the likelihood of success."

Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler, said he didn't blame Reynolds for speaking out.

"Any parent has every right in the world to try to find out what happened to this child," Van Zandt said Tuesday.

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Carol Durgin's picture

Trista Reynolds and her missing daughter.

I think after two years she is fed up. I know what it is like to not have a closure to a murder. My brother Danny Wood was murdered in July of 1954. Nobody was ever caught. I think there was some cover up. I have my own thoughts on what happened. I heard back a few years ago that COLD CASE would be called in to take a look at the case, that never happened.
I am not sure if she is doing the right thing. On the other hand, I am sure she feels like things have been moving way to slow. Probably the Police and Detectives feel eventually someone will make a slip up and they will be able to move closer.
There has to be a change made in the Justice system. There should be no excuse for cases to drag on and on.
I hope that the person responsible for this will be caught and punished. If someone murders another person, the death penalty is the answer. If they are holding this little one, that deserves punishment also.

Jason Theriault's picture

I know what she's doing...

She's making sure everyone knows DiPietro did it.
One can only hope DiPietro meets a grisly and painful end.

Andrew Jones's picture

If you have any evidence that

If you have any evidence that Justin DiPietro is guilty of a crime, I hope you step forward. Until then, we need to continue to put people to trial based on facts, not emotions. I thought this country learned that lesson in Florida recently in the trials of Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman.

Jason Theriault's picture

The lesson

Murders get away with it sometimes.

Jeff Wilkins's picture

The evidence...

If there are significant amounts of the child's blood found in his home and on his clothes, that's pretty damning evidence. It might not be enough for a conviction, but it's certainly going to indicate that he bears responsibility for the child's disappearance. If you combine that with the lack of co-operation from him and his family, well, let's just say common sense would lead you in the right direction.

Andrew Jones's picture

Sure, it sucks that nobody is

Sure, it sucks that nobody is talking; but they are all still suspects in the disappearance of a child and are entitled to their 5th amendment right. You cannot take a fundamental part of the constitution and turn it against a citizen, no matter how strongly you feel they are guilty.

Jeff Wilkins's picture


Actually, I can. Because the same set laws that protect them give me the right to voice my opinion. They have the right to a trial and to not incriminate themselves. I have the right to look at the facts and come to a common sense conclusion. What I don't have, is the right to act on it.

Let's face it. Him and his family are responsible of the death of that child. Everyone knows it.


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