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Ayla Reynolds Missing: Dive Teams Will Search River For Kidnapped Maine Toddler (VIDEO)

GLENN ADAMS   01/11/12 05:24 PM ET   AP

WATERVILLE, Maine — Divers searched a half-mile stretch of an icy river Wednesday for any sign of a toddler who's been missing for more than three weeks, and authorities said investigators are considering all possibilities related to the girl's disappearance.

The number of tips on the possible whereabouts of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds has now topped 600, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

"We have ruled out no scenario. We have ruled out no one," McCausland told reporters gathered at a command post alongside the Kennebec River Wednesday. Eighteen divers searched the river while trying to avoid floating chunks of ice.

Ayla was reported missing from her father's Waterville home on Dec. 17, and her disappearance was declared a crime. A $30,000 reward, raised from private donors, is posted for information leading to her return.

The girl's father, Justin DiPietro, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was grateful to law enforcement officials and said he had "complete confidence in them."

"They've taken a lot of criticism, and people don't really know what's going on behind the scenes. These men have been out there working, working since Day 1. They missed Christmas. They missed New Year's with their families. They are doing everything they can to get my daughter home," he said.

Law enforcement officials have searched the woods near the girl's home and trash bins throughout Waterville. The nearby Messalonskee Stream was drained nearly dry on Dec. 21 so wardens could get a better look from the ground and sky.

Maine Warden Service Lt. Kevin Adam said no specific tip had led investigators to the Kennebec River. Searchers wanted to eliminate the half-mile stretch between a dam and a bridge as a possibility, and the weather was favorable, he said. Thursday's forecast calls for heavy snow.

"This is just us expanding our search area, trying to think of all the different scenarios, and doing what we can do to find Ayla," Adam said.

DiPietro declined to discuss any details of what happened before his daughter went missing, including who else was in the home the night Ayla was last seen.

DiPietro said he tries not to let negative thoughts creep into his mind when he considers what might have happened to his daughter.

"I've got to remain hopeful. I've got to remain optimistic. I've got to remain confident they are going to get Ayla home," he said.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said that although it had been 26 days since Ayla vanished, "our intensity and our commitment to find Ayla is as great today as it was the first day."

All family members and those who were in the house the night Ayla was last seen have been cooperating, Massey said. There were three adults and two children in the house, McCausland said, but investigators have declined to identify any of them other than DiPietro and his daughter.

McCausland said investigators continue encouraging anyone with information, no matter how immaterial it might seem, to call state police.

"That might be the piece of information we need to crack this case wide open," McCausland said.

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  • Ayla Reynolds

    Investigators are searching for Ayla Reynolds, a 20-month-old Maine girl believed to have vanished from her bed while her family slept. Reynolds' father, Justin DiPietro, told investigators he last saw the child at around 8 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2011, when he put her to sleep in her own bedroom. The following morning, at around 8:50 a.m., he called police to say her bed was empty. This photograph was posted on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Help.Find.Ayla" target="_hplink">a Facebook page dedicated to the missing toddler</a>.

  • Ayla Reynolds

    Police in Waterville, Maine, started searching for Reynolds on the morning of Dec. 17. They later called in outside agencies for assistance. This photograph of Reynolds was posted on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Help.Find.Ayla" target="_hplink">a Facebook page dedicated to the missing toddler</a>.

  • Ayla Reynolds

    Reynolds is described as 2 feet, 9 inches tall, about 30 pounds, with short blonde hair and blue eyes. This photograph was posted on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Help.Find.Ayla" target="_hplink">a Facebook page dedicated to the missing toddler</a>.

  • Ayla Reynolds

    Reynolds was wearing green pajamas with polka dots at the time of her disappearance. She also had a soft cast on her left arm. This photograph was posted on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Help.Find.Ayla" target="_hplink">a Facebook page dedicated to the missing toddler</a>.

  • Ayla Reynolds

    Reynolds was living with her father in Waterville. Her mother lives in Portland. This photograph was posted on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Help.Find.Ayla" target="_hplink">a Facebook page dedicated to the missing toddler</a>.

  • The Search

    Maine wardens search a field on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, two blocks from the home where 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds vanished from her bed sometime late Friday or early Saturday in Waterville, Maine. The Maine Warden Service, the FBI and Maine State Police have assisted Waterville police in the search. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  • The Search

    A state trooper walks to his cruiser on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, in front of the home where 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds vanished from her bed sometime late Friday or early Saturday. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  • The Search

    A Waterville police cruiser idles on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, across the street from the home where 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds vanished from her bed sometime late Friday or early Saturday in Waterville, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  • Ayla Reynolds

    A billboard alerts passersby about missing toddler Ayla Reynolds.

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Filed by Steven Hoffer  |