Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011
Trista Reynolds files for full custody of her daughter, Ayla Reynolds, in Cumberland County District Court. Ayla had been in the care of her father, Justin DiPietro, since October, when Reynolds went into a drug rehabilitation program.
Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, 10 p.m.
Justin DiPietro tells police this is the last time he saw his daughter, lying in her bed in their home at 29 Violette Ave. in Waterville. She is wearing one-piece pajamas bearing the words “Daddy’s Princess.” Her left arm, broken in an accidental fall three weeks earlier, is in a soft splint and a sling.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, 8:51 a.m.
DiPietro calls 911 to report Ayla is missing after finding her bed empty. Police say she could have been abducted or walked away, but the 20-month-old child couldn’t have gone far. Waterville police and firefighters search the neighborhood. State game wardens join the search, which includes an airplane. Waterville and Maine State Police detectives look for forensic evidence in DiPietro’s house.
Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011
FBI agents, two police dogs, neighbors and other volunteers join the house-to-house and neighborhood searches. Game wardens scour the banks of nearby Messalonskee Stream. Police say they’ve interviewed several adults who were in DiPietro’s house when Ayla was put to bed Friday night.
Monday, Dec. 19, 2011
Police seize two vehicles, one of them registered to DiPietro and the other registered to his girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, of Portland. Police say parents are cooperating with the investigation. Trista Reynolds appears on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and HLN’s “Nancy Grace” shows. The search swells to 70 law enforcement agents, including game wardens looking at Messalonskee Stream with an airboat and circling the area in an airplane.
Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011
DiPietro releases a statement through Waterville police saying he doesn’t know what happened to Ayla. Investigators drain a section of Messalonskee Stream to look for clues, and they examine garbage bins, garages, backyards, ball fields and wooded areas near the home. FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team canvasses Waterville neighborhoods. Police say it’s still a missing-child case and report that they’ve received more than 100 tips.
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011
The search expands across Waterville with help from 50 members of the Maine Association for Search and Rescue. Nearly 100 people attend a candlelight vigil at a local church.
Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011
Six days into the search, investigators put crime scene tape around DiPietro’s house and intensify the search for clues. Two of the state’s top homicide prosecutors visit the house.
Friday, Dec. 23, 2011
Overnight snow ends the large-scale ground search. Trista Reynolds tells NBC’s “Today” show that she blames DiPietro for not keeping Ayla safe and hopes her daughter will be home for Christmas. Police get media inquiries from across the country as interest in Ayla’s disappearance grows. Dozens gather for a candlelight vigil in Congress Square in Portland.
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011
Waterville police appeal for a break in media coverage so they can do their work “outside the microscope.” Crime-scene evidence tape seals all doors and windows throughout the weekend.
Monday, Dec. 26, 2011
Ten days into the investigation, police say they believe someone took Ayla from her home, saying for the first time that they don’t believe she left the house on her own. Community members offer a $30,000 reward for evidence leading investigators to Ayla. A state police evidence response team van is parked in the driveway.
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011
Investigators from four police agencies continue the search and follow up on more than 300 tips but won’t say whether they have any forensic evidence or suspects in the case.
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011
DiPietro issues a second statement through Waterville police, repeating that he doesn’t know what happened to Ayla. He also offered thanks to community members for their support. The warden service ends the last of the large-scale ground searches in Waterville.
Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011
Trista Reynolds appears on the “Today” show, pleading with DiPietro to communicate with her.
Friday, Dec. 30, 2011
Police announce foul play is suspected in what is now a criminal case. Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit takes the lead in the investigation, and Massachusetts detectives join the effort, providing investigative tools at the house.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011
State police release the house at 29 Violette Ave. back to the occupants.
Sunday, Jan. 1
The DiPietro family is seen back at the home.
Monday, Jan. 2
DiPietro grants interviews to the Morning Sentinel and NBC’s “Today” show and pleads for Ayla’s safe return.
Wednesday, Jan. 4
DiPietro grants a second interview to the Morning Sentinel and challenges Nancy Grace to spend a day with him. He also says he accidentally fell on Ayla in November, which broke her arm. DiPietro’s mother, Phoebe DiPietro, is present for the interview. She tells story of signing her home over to investigators, the two weeks her family was not allowed inside and the state of the home upon her return.
Friday, Jan. 6
DiPietro appears on New England Cable News to discuss his efforts to find Ayla.
Saturday, Jan. 7
Phoebe DiPietro appears on CNN and says she didn’t hear anything in her home the night before Ayla was reported missing.
Sunday, Jan. 8
Phoebe DiPietro issued a clarification to CNN that she was not in the home on the night before Ayla was reported missing. She declined to say where she was.
Monday, Jan. 9
Police announce that Portland resident Briana Roberts, the sister of DiPietro’s girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, was arrested on aggravated drug trafficking charges. Police are treat the arrest as a separate investigation, according to McCausland.
Tuesday, Jan. 10
Dive teams from the state police and the warden service search parts of the Kennebec River and Messalonskee Stream for any signs of Ayla. At a news conference, Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland says investigators have received more than 600 tips, but they need more. McCausland adds that police encourage Ayla’s family members to speak to the news media about the search. Earlier, Trista Reynolds appears on the “Today” show and says she had spoken to DiPietro, but hadn’t gotten “the whole truth” about what happened the night Ayla Reynolds disappeared.
Friday, Jan. 13
DiPietro grants third interview to the Morning Sentinel. DiPietro says he took a polygraph test, but that police didn’t show him results. McCausland says DiPietro “knows how he did, because we told him.” DiPietro contends that being told the results is irrelevant if he cannot see the results for himself. He added, “I know I went in there and smoked it. I told the truth.” McCausland says special training is required to interpret the printed lines on a polygraph test.
DiPietro also tells who was in the home the night of Dec. 16: He and Ayla; sister Elisha DiPietro and her daughter; and girlfriend Courtney Roberts and her son.
Monday, Jan. 16
Angela Harry, an acquaintance of Justin DiPietro, launches a website that describes the events of Dec. 16 and 17. The account, Harry says, was compiled from near-daily phone conversations with DiPietro after Ayla’s disappearance.
Tuesday, Jan. 17
A second candlelight vigil is held in Waterville. DiPietro attends with his brother Lance DiPietro and friends.
Thursday, Jan. 19
Trista Reynolds announces she has taken a polygraph test but wasn’t able to complete it because of a medical condition.
Wednesday, Jan. 25
Waterville police deny a request by the Morning Sentinel seeking an audio recording or transcript of the 911 call made by DiPietro on Dec. 17. Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey cites Maine law saying the release of “investigative intelligence” could hinder the ongoing investigation.
Friday, Jan. 27
The Reynolds family announces that two more of Ayla’s maternal family members have taken polygraph tests. Ayla’s uncle Ronnie Reynolds passed the test a day earlier, according to the announcement. Ayla’s maternal grandmother, Becca Hanson, wasn’t able to complete the test because of her prescribed medications.
Saturday, Jan. 28
McCausland announces that police doubt Ayla was abducted from her home, adding that explanation doesn’t pass the “straight-face test.”
Earlier that day, police announce that blood was found at 29 Violette Ave., during the December search, but they don’t know whose blood it is. Shortly after the announcement, DiPietro and Trista Reynolds appear together at a third vigil in Waterville. It is the first time they have seen each other since Ayla disappeared.
Sunday, Jan 29
McCausland confirms that the blood found in the Violette Avenue home is Ayla’s.
Monday, Jan 30
WCVB TV in Boston reports that police believe Ayla is dead. McCausland blasts the report as “irresponsible and inaccurate.” WCVB removes the story from its website.
Friday, Feb. 3
Dive teams from the state police and the warden service return to parts of the Kennebec River and Messalonskee Stream and continue their search for clues. At a news conference, McCausland says police need more tips.
Later that night, at 11:15 p.m., Phoebe DiPietro calls 911 to report vandalism at her home after two windows are shattered from the outside. No suspects were immediately found.
Monday, Feb. 6
Ayla’s uncle, Lance DiPietro, is summoned for allegedly assaulting Justin Linnell, who is the father of Ayla’s cousin, Gabriella Linnell. Police say DiPietro kicked Linnell in the face after Linnell fell to the ground during a brief scuffle in a parking lot off College Avenue.
Monday, Feb. 13
Augusta attorney Steve Bourget announces he has been representing Phoebe and Elisha DiPietro since early January. He says his clients have no idea what happened to Ayla. He also says there was no party at the home on the night before Ayla was reported missing.
In Portland, Ayla’s maternal family announces that state police told them Justin DiPietro bought a life insurance policy on his daughter shortly after she was under his care.
Also, Waterville police summon Jeremy Hanson, 19, of Clinton on a charge of vandalizing the DiPietro home on Feb. 3.
Tuesday, Feb. 28
DiPietro and his supporters, the Tudela family, grant an interview with the Morning Sentinel. They contend that a kidnapping is plausible, despite contrary claims by state police. DiPietro said there are good reasons to believe Ayla was kidnapped, but he stopped short of saying what those reasons were.
Saturday, March 3
Ayla’s grandmother, Phoebe DiPietro, speaks at the fourth vigil in Waterville for the missing toddler. About 100 people gather on Castonguay Square. Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro, did not attend because of unspecified threats against him, according to his friend Heidi Tudela.
Sunday, March 18
Ayla’s stepgrandfather, Jeff Hanson, launches answersforayla.com, a blog that purports to have inside information from state police investigators. The blog contends investigators found more than a cup of blood in the basement at 29 Violette Ave., but police wouldn’t confirm the claim.
Saturday, March 24
After a week of unseasonably warm weather, 100 searchers scour areas of Waterville, Oakland, Fairfield and Norridgewock. Searchers discover the remains of Steven C. Brandon of Waterville, who had been missing since February 2004, but they find no clues of Ayla’s whereabouts.
At a news conference, McCausland asks residents in greater Kennebec County to search their property for signs of the missing toddler. He also says communication between Ayla’s paternal family and investigators has “basically stopped.” Bourget says that is untrue of his clients.
McCausland added that state police, the warden service and Waterville police have spent about $100,000 in overtime pay during the investigation. Police Chief Joseph Massey later estimates the total cost of the investigation could be as high as $500,000.
Wednesday, March 28
Justin, Elisha and Phoebe DiPietro tell the Morning Sentinel that communication has stopped because investigators won’t answer their questions.
Thursday, March 29
The Associated Press publishes an interview with Ayla’s mother. Trista says Ayla needed constant attention; she wonders whether DiPietro may have been frustrated by her.
Wednesday, April 4
Ayla’s maternal family calls for people across Maine and beyond to search their property on the missing girl’s second birthday. The family calls it a Gift for Ayla. They also organize a vigil in downtown Portland; more than 100 people attend.
Tuesday, April 17
Lance DiPietro pleads not guilty during an initial court appearance on an assault charge stemming from the Feb. 6 incident when DiPietro allegedly kicked Justin Linnell, who is the father of Ayla’s cousin, Gabriella Linnell.
Thursday, April 19
Family, friends and community members attend a prayer vigil for Ayla at the Church of God in Waterville, which was organized by Lance DiPietro. The three adults who were with Ayla on Dec. 16 — Justin DiPietro, Elisha DiPietro and Courtney Roberts — attend the vigil. News cameras and most reporters are not allowed to attend.
Wednesday, April 25
Police recover undisclosed items from the Kennebec River, which are sent to the state crime lab for testing. McCausland says investigators don’t know if the items are related to Ayla.
Saturday, May 5
At a walk to raise awareness about Ayla, Elisha DiPietro tells a Morning Sentinel reporter that she took a polygraph exam and “did fine,” but wouldn’t say if she passed or failed. McCausland won’t confirm whether she took an exam.
Tuesday, May 8
Police drain a diversion channel of a Waterville dam to search for evidence. McCausland said some undisclosed items were removed from the scene by detectives and sent to the crime lab for processing as potential evidence.
Friday, May 18
Trista Reynolds says police told her the items retrieved from the Kennebec River on May 8 are unrelated to the case.
Thursday, May 31
Maine State Police and Waterville Police hold a press conference to say Ayla is likely dead. McCausland says investigators’ conclusion was based on a culmination of factors, but wouldn’t say what those individual factors were. In addition, local attorney John Nale announces that the $30,000 reward for any information that would lead investigators to Ayla will expire June 30.
Saturday, June 30
The $30,000 reward for information expires at the end of the day. A candlelight vigil is held at 29 Violette Ave. from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Tuesday, July 2
The teddy bear shrine that appeared on the lawn of 29 Violette Ave. shortly after Ayla’s disappearance is removed by the DiPietro family.
Thursday, July 5
Lance DiPietro pleads no contest to assault charge on Justin Linnell. Judge fines him $300, advises him against being an “enforcer” for brother Justin DiPietro.
Saturday, July 14
Marking the 200th day since Ayla was reported missing, her mother holds A Benefit Walk For Ayla in Portland from Monument Square to Deering Park. The route traces a familiar path for Trista Reynolds, who says she wants to share the walk with Ayla she used to do nearly every day.
Tuesday, July 17
Searchers find “nothing substantial” during another search of the Kennebec River and its banks from Lockwood Dam at the Hathaway Creative Center and upstream to the Hydro Kennebec Dam. The search coincides with the seven-month mark of the investigation. Also, during the previous weekend, a sign was posted at the site of the former teddy bear shrine at 29 Violette Ave.
Friday, Oct. 5
State police detectives search Messalonskee Stream, which was drained by Kennebec Water District for routine maintenance. Detectives cover a half-mile of riverbanks upsteam and downstream of the North Street bridge. Nothing is found.
Friday, Dec. 14
During a press conference, McCausland says communication between investigators and Justin, Elisha and Phoebe has improved. Attorney Steve Bourget says police presented his clients with physical evidence from the case and the DNA evidence from the basement matches Ayla, but it isn’t “necessarily blood.”