December 11, 2013

Timeline: Ayla Reynolds disappearance

Dec. 15, 2011
Trista Reynolds files for full custody of her 20-month-old daughter, Ayla Reynolds, in Cumberland County District Court. Ayla had been in the care of her father, Justin DiPietro, since October, when Reynolds went into a drug rehabilitation program.

Dec. 16, 2011, 10 p.m.
Justin DiPietro sees his daughter for the last time, lying in her bed in their home at 29 Violette Ave. in Waterville, he later tells police. She is wearing one-piece pajamas with the words “Daddy’s Princess.” Her left arm, broken in an accidental fall three weeks earlier, is in a soft splint and a sling.

Dec. 17, 2011, 8:51 a.m.

DiPietro calls 911 to report Ayla is missing after finding her bed empty. Waterville police, firefighters and wardens from the  Maine Warden Service search the neighborhood by foot and air Waterville and Maine State Police detectives search the house.

Dec. 18, 2011
FBI agents, police dogs, neighbors and other volunteers join the house-to-house and neighborhood searches. Game wardens scour the banks of nearby Messalonskee Stream. Police interview DiPietro, his sister Elisha DiPietro and his girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, all of whom were in the house the night Ayla disappeared.

Dec. 19, 2011
Police seize two vehicles, one of them registered to DiPietro and the other to his girlfriend, Roberts, of Portland. Police say DiPietro and Reynolds are cooperating. Reynolds appears on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and HLN’s “Nancy Grace” shows. The search swells to 70 law enforcement agents, including game wardens looking at Messalonskee Stream with an airboat and circling the area in an airplane.

Dec. 20, 2011
DiPietro releases a statement through Waterville police saying he doesn’t know what happened to Ayla. Investigators drain a section of Messalonskee Stream to look for clues, and examine garbage bins, garages, backyards, ball fields and wooded areas near the home. FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team canvasses Waterville neighborhoods. Police say it’s still a missing child case. They’ve received more than 100 tips.

Dec. 21, 2011
The search expands across Waterville with help from 50 members of the Maine Association for Search and Rescue. Nearly 100 people attend a candlelight vigil at a local church.

Dec. 22, 2011
Six days into the search, investigators put crime scene tape around 29 Violette Ave., two of the state’s top homicide investigators visit the house and intensify the search for clues.

Dec. 23, 2011
Overnight snow ends the ground search. Reynolds tells NBC’s “Today” show that she blames DiPietro for not keeping Ayla safe and hopes her daughter will be home for Christmas. Police get media inquiries from across the country as interest in Ayla’s disappearance grows. Dozens gather for a candlelight vigil in Congress Square in Portland.

Dec. 24, 2011
Waterville police appeal for a break in media coverage so they can do their work “outside the microscope.” Crime-scene evidence tape seals all doors and windows throughout the weekend.

Dec. 26, 2011

Ten days into the investigation, police say they believe someone took Ayla from her home, saying for the first time that they don’t believe she left the house on her own. Community members offer a $30,000 reward for evidence leading to Ayla. A state police evidence response team van is parked in the driveway.

Dec. 27, 2011

Investigators from four police agencies continue the search and follow up on more than 300 tips.

Dec. 28, 2011

DiPietro issues a second statement through Waterville police, repeating that he doesn’t know what happened to Ayla. The Warden Service ends the last of the large-scale ground searches in Waterville.

Dec. 29, 2011

Reynolds appears on the “Today” show, pleading with DiPietro to communicate with her.

Dec. 30, 2011

Police announce foul play is suspected in what is now a criminal case. Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit takes the lead in the investigation, and Massachusetts detectives join the effort, providing investigative tools at the house.

Dec. 31, 2011
State police release the house at 29 Violette Ave. back to the occupants.

Jan. 1, 2012

The DiPietro family is seen back at the home.

Jan. 2, 2012

DiPietro grants interviews to the Morning Sentinel and NBC’s “Today” show and pleads for Ayla’s safe return.

Jan. 4, 2012
DiPietro grants a second interview to the Morning Sentinel and challenges Nancy Grace to spend a day with him. He says Ayla broke her arm when he fell on her in November. His mother, Phoebe DiPietro, who owns 29 Violette Ave., says she had to sign her home over to investigators and the family was not allowed in for two weeks.

Jan. 6-Jan. 8, 2012

DiPietro appears on New England Cable News to discuss his efforts to find Ayla, Phoebe DiPietro tells CNN she didn’t hear anything in her home the night before Ayla was reported missing, then appears the next day to clarify she was not in the home on the night before Ayla was reported missing.

Jan. 10, 2012

State police and the Warden Service dive teams search parts of the Kennebec River and Messalonskee Stream. McCausland says investigators have received more than 600 tips, but they need more. McCausland adds that police encourage Ayla’s family members to speak to the news media about the search. Earlier, Reynolds appears on the “Today” show and says she had spoken to DiPietro, but hadn’t gotten “the whole truth” about what happened the night Ayla disappeared.

Jan. 13, 2012
In third interview with the Morning Sentinel, DiPietro says he took a polygraph test, but that police didn’t show him results. McCausland says DiPietro “knows how he did, because we told him.” DiPietro contends that being told the results is irrelevant if he cannot see the results for himself. He added, “I know I went in there and smoked it. I told the truth.” McCausland says special training is required to interpret the printed lines on a polygraph test.

Jan. 16, 2012

Angela Harry, a DiPietro acquaintance, launches a website that describes the events of Dec. 16 and 17. The account, Harry says, was compiled from near-daily phone conversations with DiPietro.

Jan. 17, 2012
A second candlelight vigil is held in Waterville. DiPietro attends with his brother, Lance DiPietro, and friends.

Jan. 19, 2012
Reynolds says she has taken a polygraph test but wasn’t able to complete it because of a medical condition.

 Jan. 25, 2012

Waterville police deny a request by the Morning Sentinel for an audio recording or transcript of DiPietro’s Dec. 17 911 call. Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey cites Maine law saying release of “investigative intelligence” could hinder investigation.

Jan. 27, 2012
The Reynolds family announces that two more of Ayla’s maternal family members have taken polygraph tests — Ayla’s uncle Ronnie Reynolds passed the test the day before and her maternal grandmother, Becca Hanson, couldn’t complete the test because she was on medication.

Jan. 28, 2012

McCausland announces that police doubt Ayla was abducted from her home and DiPietro’s explanation doesn’t pass the “straight-face test.”

(Continued on page 2)

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

Send question/comment to the editors




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.)