March 24, 2012

During today's Ayla Reynolds search, a 2004 body discovered

By Ben McCanna bmccanna@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE – The body of man missing since 2004 was found Saturday during a search for Ayla Reynolds, but searchers did not find any clues that would lead them to the toddler.

click image to enlarge

Members of the Maine Search and Rescue Dogs search an area along the side of Heath Court in Oakland for missing toddler Ayla Reynolds on Saturday, March 24, 2012. Authorities have renewed the search for Reynolds in spots that were previously covered in snow.

Michael G. Seamans / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Members of the Maine Search and Rescue Dogs search an area next to Heath Court in Oakland for missing toddler Ayla Reynolds on Saturday, March 24, 2012 for Ayla Reynolds. Authorities have renewed the search for Reynolds in spots that were previously covered in snow.

Michael G. Seamans / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

MISSING MAN

Steven C. Brandon, the man whose body police believe they found Saturday, lived on Winter Street when he was last seen on Feb. 16, 2004.

According to a 2004 Associated Press article, Brandon left his home without a car or cellphone and didn’t say anything to his family or girlfriend.

At the time, Brandon’s mother, Ann Brandon of Cherryfield, said her son had an argument with his girlfriend and was apparently distraught.

Relatives of Brandon could not be located at press time.

Volunteer searchers found the skeletal remains of a man whom investigators believe to be Steven C. Brandon, a Waterville resident who has been missing since February 2004. Police do not believe foul play was involved in his death, according to Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland.

The remains, found by volunteer searchers on the banks of Messalonskee Stream, will be sent to the state Medical Examiner’s Office to confirm the identity and cause of death.

At a news conference Saturday afternoon, McCausland said investigators have received 988 tips in the Ayla Reynolds case, which is in its fourth month. He added that state police, Waterville police and the warden service have spent more than $100,000 in overtime related to finding Ayla.

“That gives you an idea of the commitment that has taken place over the past three months, at least financially,” he said.

McCausland also said that communication with the three adults who were in the home the night before Ayla was reported missing has “basically stopped.” Those adults are Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro; DiPietro’s girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, of Portland; and his sister, Elisha DiPietro.

“As I have stated all along, we believe those three individuals inside that home that night know things that they haven’t told us, and that is frustrating,” he said. “ But we continue on, we continue to make progress and the work will not stop.”

Asked why communication has stopped, McCausland said, “I guess you’ll have to ask them why the communication has stopped.”

Justin DiPietro couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.

Steve Bourget, the Augusta lawyer representing Elisha DiPietro and Ayla’s grandmother Phoebe DiPietro, agreed that communication has stopped between his two clients and investigators, but they remain cooperative, he said.

“As far as Elisha and Phoebe are concerned, police have not asked us any questions,” Bourget said. “Anything we can do to help, we will wholeheartedly help, but they have not asked for any help,” Bourget said.

Unseasonably warm weather this winter and spring and the early disappearance of the winter’s snow enabled about 100 searchers, including members of the Maine Warden Service, Maine State Police, the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency and local fire departments, volunteers with the Maine Association of Search and Rescue and cadaver dogs to search Saturday, said Lt. Kevin Adam of the warden service.

“Typically we wouldn’t be able to search in March this early,” Adam said. “It’s great searching conditions out there. It’s mostly dry. There are no leaves, so you can see a long way. Good scenting conditions (for the dogs) – it’s not real hot, not real cold.”

The search areas included parts of Waterville, Oakland, Sidney, Norridgewock and Fairfield. Adam said searches in Waterville were done to retrace areas that weren’t thoroughly investigated in December, shortly after Ayla was reported missing from her home on Violette Avenue.

In Oakland, the search of First Park, an industrial park off Kennedy Memorial Drive, was meant to expand the areas that have been covered. Searches in other towns were in isolated areas based on higher-priority tips received by state police.

Adam said more ground searches are planned for the coming weeks, as well as water searches by dive teams.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Missing toddler Ayla Reynolds, who vanished Dec. 16 in Waterville and hasn't been seen since.

click image to enlarge

Members of the Maine Search and Rescue Dogs search an area along the side of Heath Court in Oakland for missing toddler Ayla Reynolds on Saturday, March 24, 2012. Authorities have renewed the search for Reynolds in spots that were previously covered in snow.

Michael G. Seamans / Staff Photographer

 


Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)