iOS app Android app More

Ayla Reynolds Search Resumes In Maine

03/24/12 04:12 PM ET AP

Ayla Reynolds
The spring thaw enabled investigators and volunteers to resume the search for missing Maine toddler Ayla Reynolds.

WATERVILLE, Maine — With the ground clear of winter's snow, about 100 searchers aided by tracking dogs failed to turn up any new clues Saturday as they renewed their search for a Maine toddler who's been missing for more than three months.

Volunteers, firefighters and game wardens met with police Saturday morning, then began searching woods and fields in Waterville for any sign of Ayla Reynolds, Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said.

Searchers targeted places that were not thoroughly searched over the winter when the ground was covered with snow.

"The weather conditions were ideal, and the snow's gone, so that's why the ground search was resumed today," McCausland said.

Ayla was 20 months old when she was last seen the night of Dec. 16 at her father's home in Waterville. She was reported missing the following morning when her father, Justin DiPietro, said he discovered her bed empty.

Ayla's mother, Trista Reynolds, lives in Portland.

Police are treating her disappearance as a crime, but no one has been charged. An undisclosed amount of Ayla's blood was found in the partially finished basement that DiPietro used as his bedroom, and police have said DiPietro and two other adults in the home that night haven't been totally forthcoming.

DiPietro has said he has no idea what happened to his daughter or who is responsible.

Police have received 988 tips and searched a five-mile swath around DiPietro's home, McCausland said. Maine State Police, the Maine Warden Service and Waterville police have spent more than $100,000 in overtime alone on the case, he said.

Investigators continue to interview people and the crime lab continues to analyze items connected to the case, but talks with DiPietro, his girlfriend and sister have broken down, McCausland said.

"They have stopped talking to us," he said.

DiPietro did not immediately respond to a message left Saturday on his cellphone.

Although searchers found no signs of Ayla, they found the remains of 53-year-old Steven Brandon of Waterville, who was reported missing in 2004, along Messalonskee Stream, McCausland said.

The remains have been taken to the state medical examiner's office, but foul play is not suspected in his death.

Brandon's identification was found among the remains, he said.

PHOTOS FROM THE AYLA REYNOLDS CASE:
Loading Slideshow...
  • 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.

FOLLOW CRIME

Filed by Michael McLaughlin  |