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Year later, Maine’s Ayla Reynolds case is mystery

  • By DAVID SHARP
    Associated Press
  • Posted: Thursday, 12/13/12 07:26 pm

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — More than 1,000 children are reported missing each year in Maine. The vast majority are quickly reunited with loved ones, often within hours. Over 40 years, only three missing-person cases involving young children remain unsolved.

The case of Ayla Reynolds — which drew national attention as hundreds of searchers looked for her last December in the central Maine town of Waterville — is one of them. And a year later, her family fears that the case is growing cold as they await answers from detectives about what happened to her.

“Sometimes I feel like they’re just kind of giving up on it,” said Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds. “You know, Ayla has been missing for a year, and what answers do they have for anybody? None.”

Nationally, about 800,000 children and teens are reported missing each year, said Robert Lowery from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Most are soon resolved in all states, but the number of unresolved cases is uncommonly low in Maine, a mostly rural state with a low crime rate.

Ayla, a blond, blue-eyed toddler with a bright smile, was 20 months old when she was reported missing the morning of Dec. 17 from her father’s home. The disappearance prompted a massive search by Waterville and state police, game wardens, and FBI agents who canvassed neighborhoods and lowered several streams.

Police announced that they didn’t think Ayla was abducted from her bedroom. They also confirmed the presence of her blood in the home and said the father, Justin DiPietro, and two other adults in the home that night know more than they’ve told detectives, creating an air of suspicion.