March 2, 2012

Ayla Reynolds vigil planned for Saturday

By BEN MCCANNA Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Another vigil for missing child Ayla Reynolds is scheduled for this weekend.

The Teddy Bear Vigil will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Castonguay Square. Organizers will distribute free bracelets and nightlights. Participants are asked to bring donations of teddy bears, according to organizer Laurie Bingham.

The teddy bears will either be delivered to a shrine near the Violette Avenue home where Ayla was reported missing on Dec. 17, or they will be donated to police or other agencies that help children cope with emergencies, she said.

Bingham, 46, is a Waterville resident with three children and a 20-month-old grandson. Ayla's disappearance felt personal, she said.

"It struck my heart. I just wanted to do anything I could to help Ayla," she said. "From day one, I just couldn't get this case off my mind."

About a month ago, she started the Facebook page "Laurie Bingham Ayla's Angels" to sustain awareness of the missing toddler.

"I wanted it to be a voice for Ayla," Bingham said of the site. "No one else was doing that. My page is about Ayla."

There are almost 20 different Facebook pages and several blogs devoted to the ongoing investigation.

Some sites take clear sides between the tot's maternal and paternal families. Some sites disparage all parties, including law enforcement and the media.

Bingham, who has no relation or friendships with anyone involved, said the bickering is a distraction.

"I got so angry that everybody was arguing about stuff, and no one was concentrating on Ayla," she said. "I run (the site) as if she was my granddaughter, because in my heart she is. And my main goal is to get her name out there."

Nonetheless, Bingham said, she doesn't censor others' opinions or theories.

"I try to keep my personal opinion out of the page, but everybody else, I let them say what they want," she said.

The group of roughly 400 members is relatively small compared to many other sites, but it continues to grow, she said.

"We're building an army of angels for Ayla," she said.

Ben McCanna -- 861-9239

bmccanna@centralmaine.com

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