Missing Maine girl's family worried about her safety

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) — Relatives of a woman whose toddler daughter is the subject of an intensive search said Monday that they were concerned about the girl's safety while she was staying with her father, who was caring for her when she disappeared.

Missing Toddler
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This undated photo obtained from a Facebook page shows missing toddler Alya Reynolds. 

Twenty-month-old Ayla Reynolds was reported missing Saturday morning by her father, Justin DiPietro, who called police to say she was not in her bed at his home in Waterville.

Welfare agents had placed Ayla with her father weeks ago while her mother, Trista Reynolds, was in rehab for substance abuse, Reynolds' stepsister Whitney Raynor said Monday. The toddler's maternal grandmother, Becka Hanson, told the Morning Sentinel newspaper it was the Department of Health and Human Services that took custody of the girl and turned her over to DiPietro.

After moving in with her father, the toddler suffered a broken arm, said Raynor, who serves as spokeswoman for the Portland family, which has sought to regain custody of the girl.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey has said the girl's broken arm was from an accidental fall. The Department of Health and Human Services, the state's child welfare agency, had no comment on the case Monday.

A phone number for the father couldn't immediately be located Monday, and The Associated Press was unable to reach members of his immediate family by phone. Police outside his house Monday said that he was not there and that the girl's disappearance remains a missing-person case.

The girl was last seen Friday night wearing green one-piece pajamas with polka dots and the words "Daddy's Princess" on them; she had a soft cast on her left arm.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said police learned of the girl's cast on her arm from either DiPietro or guests at his home Friday night.

Two cars were towed Monday from near DiPietro's house, but police would not comment on who owned them or why they were taken away.

Massey said every lead reported by the public is being followed in hopes of locating the child.

"We are approaching this with every possible thought and angle in mind. It is currently a very open case," Massey said at a briefing.

He said about 75 officers, including game wardens specially trained in search and rescue, were working on the case.

As the search entered its third day, a Maine Warden Service plane circled overhead, wardens searched a stream near the father's house and residents joined in canvassing the neighborhood for any signs of Ayla.

Wardens focused most of their efforts Monday on Messalonskee Stream, and the FBI and state police were helping Waterville police investigate, McCausland said.

The stream meanders through Waterville, a city of about 16,000 residents 20 miles north of Augusta.

Many residents joined in the search. Carrie Harvey, who lives nearby, found a sippy cup lid near the neighborhood and turned it over to a warden.

"It's sad. Christmas is right around the corner. My heart cries out for that lady," Harvey, a mother of five, said of Ayla's mother.

Reynolds, who also has a baby boy, went to court Thursday to regain sole custody of Ayla, Raynor said.

Reynolds told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday that she and the father have been unable to get along in the last few weeks.

"I've had no contact with him; he's had no contact with me. All I know is he's the last man to see my daughter, and all I want to know is where she is," she said.

Investigators interviewed the parents, as well as other family members, and they were cooperative, Massey said.

The father moved four to six weeks ago to his childhood home in a tidy neighborhood of small ranch houses built after World War II, a neighbor said. A few blocks away is a park, alongside the stream.

A state police evidence van was parked outside DiPietro's gray, viny-sided bungalow on Monday, and two state troopers were stationed outside.

"It's just so sad, so sad. I hope we end up with a live child," said Ellen Paul, a retired Colby College employee who lives across the street from DiPietro's home. "I'm heartbroken for anybody to go through that kind of pain."

___

Associated Press reporter David Sharp in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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Comments

Kim Berry's picture

broken arm on a highly active youth, in sports ........

......... is common. Broken arm on a 18 month old IS NOT COMMON. Bruised in the USUAL locations is common as a child is a toddler and explores, and stumbles while playing at getting good walking.

I know of a case where a woman, after following a SUV (with tinted windows)in traffic, into a department store parking lot, claimed they saw a parent beating on their infant in the back seat (while driving) and claims they saw the continued beating after they pulled over and parked adjacent to the SUV.

The cops where there for almost 2 hours!The real story was, that the family dog was stealing the child's McDonald's, and the parent slapped the dog then pulled the dog up front away from the child's food! This witness INISTED that an charge AND arrest happen. The child was forcibly removed from the scene & brought to the emergency room with NO visible signs of injury or tramma, the person was arrested and charged! For slapping their dog, in traffic.

NOW my point, DHS can and will go after to most mundane, cirumstantial bullshit, with no proof whatsoever! NO injury, no tramma, ER cleared the child, DHS agent cleared the parent & child back to home.... But court still wouldnt drop it! Proceedings continued. But they will let stuff like THIS broken arm baby, GO! I dont get it. In case where there IS NOT ABUSE a person gets arrested, and brought to court, humiliated, carries a heavy wieght of something they didnt do.

They are far from perfect. They DO MAKE MISTAKES. They can be mistaken, and cause a family undue burdens and harship, when no crime was ever commited. Then again, can let some things go, where there is EVIDENT sign of injury ocurring, now we have a missing or deceased baby, with a broken arm. It breaks my heart

For those of you, who want to criticise my little rant here : please take the time, to volunteer at the court house. BE there as moral support for someone, or just go, sit and see what goes on there. You will see people in a whirl wind of dispair, trying to get help and searching for answers. You will hear people giving their story of truth, and being told for, the court's convinience sake, to go ahead and plead guilty to things they did not commit. That is why I study law. I am deeply moved by both sides. If you have never been close to some one who has been involved with DHS for ANY reason, then you may need to ~ get some insight ~ before saying much more.

I know of another case where a 3 1/2 year old was being molested by a family friend, in exchange for drugs going to the grandparent. DHS removed the child to one of the child's relatives. The grand mother started visiting there, was left alone w/the child, then the perpetrator began to get back into action, again! I wish I could help all of those children. I wish I could could have sucess and pray for the leaders and protect workes find truth, and pray for guidance for them to search deep within themselves what the truth reall is. And, not make snap judgments out of a personal agenda or need to have a God complex, and just feel for the truth, when they cannot see it plainly.

I am continuing to pray for the victom only right now. I do not know all of the evidence about either parent, so I will not judge any further. I just have questions, and my heart breaks for this child now. If neither parent did any wrong doing, I pray for their strength to get through this.
I mean on offense, but I have spent enough of my free time, in the court, and I know what happens there.

Ed Enos's picture

mom

Notice how quickly everyone turns on the father. Mom in rehab, mom has had no contact "because they don't get along," in rehab for drug abuse, judge gives custody to the father, "potentially abusive situation," etc. Disappointed that everyone assumes the father had something to do with it, yet mom is on national TV for it. Maybe someone from mom's recent drug past has something to do with it...Courts are loath to give children to the father unless it is extreme circumstances. Oh, and kids do break bones being kids, unless you look at every kid with a cast as an abuse victim. Whoever had a hand in this will burn in hell regardless.

Jim Cyr's picture

Mr. Enos I am

not a doctor, but for an 18 month old to break an arm by an errant fall is extremely unusual !!!!

Kim Berry's picture

How Horrible!

.... while the Mom is trying to clean up her act, child is handed over to possible abusive Dad? What about the Grand parents? They didnt want to child?

A three year old would have to have a pretty major fall in order to break an arm! When mine was a toddler, they had tumbles all the time (climbing on the couch, getting out off the chair, playing and not paying attention) NORMAL stuff, that kids do. She NEVER broke an arm! Oh gosh! WTH is going on at DHS these days?

I have a question for the Mother : NO contact with your daughter's father because you werent getting along? I could not go THAT long without contact with my child! And I cannot stand my daughter's father. WE dont get along AT all! Hell, I cannot even stand being away from my child while they are having an ovenight visit with theier Dad, coming home the next day. I am on the phone with my child throughout their visit. I do not let go of my child, just because they are with their Dad.

Alot of questions here. Another one for the Dad : how can some one go an entire night, into late morning, without checking on thier small child, one time? What was he doing to keep him from seeing if his child was sleeping or not througout the night? Kids that age are up waaaaay before 9 am! She was awake at 7:30 am or so, and with some one! Who has her!

**prayers going out to Ava's guardian angels today. Stay with her please let her know she is a good girl and people love her, especially her angels**

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