CRIME

Ayla Reynolds' Uncle, Lance DiPietro, Says He Got In A Fight 'To Protect My Family'

02/10/2012 11:52 am ET

The uncle of missing child Ayla Reynolds' claims he wasn't looking for a fight on Monday.

"I don't get in fights," DiPietro told The Portland Press Herald. "But, in light of this situation, I have to be this person... I have to protect my family -- and I will."

DiPietro, the brother of Reynolds' father Justin DiPietro, allegedly assaulted 22-year-old Justin Linnell after spotting him walking along the street in Waterviille, Maine. DiPietro accused Linnell of spreading rumors about his family following the disappearance of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds.

"Lance DiPietro engaged in a verbal argument with Mr. Linnell that escalated to a physical confrontation," Waterville Deputy Chief of Police Charles Rumsey told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. "The fight ended when Mr. Linnell fell to the ground and was kicked in the face by Mr. DiPietro."

Linnell is also a member of the missing child's extended family.

As the nearly 2-month long search continues, interested parties are turning to new and old strategies in hopes of finding the missing child.

The New Hampshire-based "Lost-n-Missing" search group is posting eight billboards throughout the region. The signs are already posted in New Jersey and Philadelphia, with plans to add more in Boston and throughout New Hampshire, according to MyFoxBoston.

In addition, dive teams returned to Waterville last Friday to search for Reynolds in two rivers.

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