WATERVILLE — Foul play was involved with the disappearance of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds, Police Chief Joseph Massey said in a statement late this evening.

“This case has evolved from the search for a missing child to a criminal investigation,” Massey said.

For that reason, Massey said, the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit has now assumed the lead role in the investigation. Waterville police will continue to work  with state police and other agencies “until Ayla is located,” he said.

“Our commitment to finding Ayla and explaining the circumstances surrounding her disappearance is as strong as it was on Dec. 17,” Massey said. “I am tremendously proud of the effort that every member of the Waterville Police Department has contributed to this case, and we look forward to a continued productive and successful partnership with the State Police, Warden Service, and the FBI.”

Two weeks have passed since Ayla was reported missing by her father from her home at 29 Violette Ave.

Since  the initial report, “investigators and searchers have spent many thousands of hours looking for Ayla,” Massey said, “and gathering and evaluating evidence which we believe will ultimately result in the successful conclusion of this investigation.”

“Every investigator involved in this case shares the hope of Ayla’s family and the public that Ayla will be located soon,” he said.  

Massey said the $30,000 reward offered by a group of anonymous private citizens and Waterville lawyer John Nale is still valid.

Police asked that anyone with information on the case to call the Waterville Police Department at 207-680-4700, or the Maine State Police at 207-624-7076.