Search Intensifies For Missing Baby Ayla Reynolds
FOXNEWS.COM: As the FBI stepped up its efforts to find a 20-month-old girl who disappeared from her father’s home over the weekend, investigators combed through trash bins, drained a stream and pored over more than 100 leads offered by the public.
Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey refused to speculate Tuesday on whether Ayla Reynolds was alive, saying authorities are focused on finding her. The investigation remains a missing-person case, he said.
Meanwhile, in his first public statement, the girl’s father, Justin DiPietro, said he doesn’t know what happened to her.
“I have no idea what happened to Ayla, or who is responsible,” he said. “I will not make accusations or insinuations towards anyone until the police have been able to prove who’s responsible for this.”
The Portland Press Herald reported that DiPietro released the statement through the Waterville Police Department, saying his family and friends will do “everything we can to assist in this investigation and get Ayla back home.”
Massey said the FBI launched a door-to-door canvass of neighbors to glean any information that may lead them to the little girl.
“We’ve ruled out nothing,” said Massey, whose central Maine agency has combined efforts with firefighters, state police, game wardens and the FBI.
Ayla was last seen when DiPietro, put her to bed Friday night. He called police to report her missing the following morning, saying he found her bed empty.
“I have shared every piece of information possible with the police,” DiPietro said in his statement.
On Tuesday, a state police evidence vehicle remained outside the home that DiPietro shared with his mother in Waterville.
State police stationed outside the house told reporters that the DiPietros were not there. Their whereabouts were unknown to the public, and The Associated Press could not find phone numbers for them.
While the neighborhood was canvassed, police were checking out trash bins across the city. A stretch of Messalonskee Stream a few blocks from DiPietro home was drained nearly dry so wardens could get a better look, both from the ground and from an airplane overhead, officials said.
Massey said each of the 100 leads that have been given to police was being followed.
Ayla’s mother said she’s trying to remain optimistic that her daughter is OK. Trista Reynolds said she’s trying to keep it together for an 8-month-old son who remains in her care but acknowledges the past few days have been tough.
“Sometimes I think that she’s OK. Sometimes I start thinking that the worst can happen. That’s how I’ve been feeling. I lay my head down at night and wonder where she is. Am I going to see her again? Do I get to see her beautiful smile?” Reynolds said of her daughter Ayla. “She’s my little girl.”
Police said both of Ayla’s parents, who live separately, continued to cooperate with police.
“Ayla Reynolds is etched in all our minds and reminds every investigator why it’s important to stay focused and committed to the task at hand: to bring Ayla back home,” Massey said.
The Reynolds family was advised after meeting with Waterville police to return to their homes 75 miles to the south in Portland to let police conduct their investigation. Reynolds and her older sister, Jessica, were staying in a hotel Tuesday to keep away from the media frenzy.
“I’m watching my sister fall to pieces,” Jessica Reynolds said. “I don’t think she has any tears left to cry.”
Trista Reynolds told The Associated Press that she and DiPietro never lived together as a couple. But Reynolds said a drinking problem prompted her to enter rehabilitation in Lewiston for 10 days in October; she said that although her mother and older sister cared for Ayla during that time, child welfare agents intervened to place the girl with DiPietro.
Last week, Reynolds filed court papers that she hoped would lead to the return of her daughter. The filing occurred the day before Ayla was last seen in Waterville.
DiPietro said Tuesday that although he has sole custody of his daughter, “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.”
SOURCE: ARTICLE BY FOXNEWS.COM DECEMBER 21, 2011