December 15, 2013

Ayla Reynolds still missing from Waterville home 2 years, 20 searches after she disappeared

The blond-haired, blue-eyed toddler who would now be 3 1/2 years old was last seen in December 2011 at her 29 Violette Ave. home.

By Amy Calder
Staff Writer

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans A candle illuminates a growing teddy bear shrine for missing 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds outside her 29 Violette Ave residence in Waterville on Christmas Day.

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Others still missing in Maine

Ayla Reynolds is one of six children who have been reported missing in Maine over the last 42 years and have not been found.

• On May 11, 1986, Kimberly Moreau, 17, was reported missing from Jay. She was last seen leaving her house with an unknown person driving a late-model white Trans-Am car. She was wearing a white blouse, blue jeans, white high-top sneakers and a men’s class ring engraved with “Mike ‘87” and “Mike Staples.” She had a surgical scar on her back. She would be 44 now.

• Cathy Marie Moulton of Portland was 16 when she was reported missing Sept. 24, 1971. She was last seen in downtown Portland, wearing a navy blue all-weather coat, navy blue pant dress and brown leather shoes. Her four eye teeth had been removed and she was wearing braces. She also was wearing thick glasses. She would be 58 today.

• Douglas Charles Chapman was reported missing on June 2, 1971, in Alfred. He was 3 years old at the time and was last seen playing in a sand box in his front yard. He is reported to have a mole on his right shoulder. He would be 45 now.

• Bernard Ross, 19, was reported missing from Ashland on May 12, 1977. He would be 55 today.

• Kurt Ronald Newton of Manchester was 4 when he disappeared Sept. 1, 1975, from a campsite at Chain of Ponds. He was camping with his family and was last seen riding a tricycle. Today, he would be 42.

-- Information from National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website ( and published reports.

The missing children’s center’s website lists the names of between 1,500 and 2,000 missing children, but the organization is working on between 3,500 and 4,000 cases, according to Lowery.

Someone out there has a key piece of information that is important to the case, even though that person may think it trivial, Lowery said.

“Ayla’s mother needs answers and we really urge that person to come forward and share that information,” he said.

The full story?

Three adults and three young children were in the Violette Avenue house the night Ayla reportedly disappeared. Besides DiPietro and Ayla, DiPietro’s then-girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, of Portland, and her young son were there, as well as DiPietro’s sister, Elisha DiPietro, and her infant daughter.

Justin DiPietro told police that when he put Ayla to bed Friday night, Dec. 16, 2011, she was wearing a green one-piece pajama outfit with polka dots and “Daddy’s Princess” on the front. Her left arm was broken and in a soft splint and sling. DiPietro said he fell on Ayla weeks before when he slipped while carrying groceries into the house.

The child had been in her father’s care since October while her mother, Trista Reynolds, was in a drug rehabilitation program.

On Dec. 15, 2011 — the day before Ayla disappeared — Reynolds, who lived in Portland, filed for full custody of her daughter.

Six days after her disappearance, police put crime scene tape around the house at 29 Violette Ave., which is owned by DiPietro’s mother, Phoebe DiPietro. Phoebe DiPietro reportedly was not home the night Ayla disappeared.

Two weeks later, police announced they suspected foul play. More than five months into the investigation, police said they believed Ayla was dead.

Focus turned to 29 Violette Ave., where she was last seen alive.

“We do not think we’ve gotten the full story from the three adults who were in the home that night,” McCausland said this week. “That would be Justin, Elisha and Courtney. Our stance has not changed. We think that they know more than they’ve told us.”

All three adults were contacted through Facebook this week and only one responded.

“All I have to say,” Elisha DiPietro wrote, “is that I love my niece and hope that she comes home soon.”

Seeking answers

Reynolds will not be speaking publicly about her daughter’s case this Christmas, according to her stepfather, Jeff Hanson.

Hanson, who manages the website, also declined to answer questions about the case, but emailed a statement to dozens of reporters, legislators and others, describing the pain the family feels two years later by her absence, particularly around Christmas.

The statement, which Hanson describes as an open letter, asks that people press for justice in the case.

“Demand answers from the state,” the statement reads. “Why are those present in the house where Ayla’s blood was shed decorating their trees and hanging their stockings while Ayla is out in the cold unknown for another Christmas? Why are they free to sing the songs of the season with their own toddlers when Ayla will never know ‘Silent Night,’ ‘Deck the Halls’ or ‘Joy to the World?’”

Authorities have said they found traces of Ayla’s blood in the house. Reynolds, citing evidence briefings shown to her by police, has described large amounts of Ayla’s blood being found in multiple locations.

The letter also targets the DiPietro and Roberts families, asking, “Where is the justice in the DiPietro and Roberts families building snowmen together or their children climbing on Santa’s lap for the iconic childhood photograph denied Ayla and those who loved her?”

It asks that those responsible be held accountable.

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