WATERVILLE — Investigators on Saturday continued tracking down leads in the disappearance of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds, a week after her father reported her missing.

In a statement, Waterville police appealed for room to do their work after days of intense media attention.

“Our team of investigators and searchers have spent the past week working in the glaring spotlight of national attention that has rightly focused on the tragic event which befell Ayla and her family on Dec. 17,” said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey. “Now, detectives need the opportunity to continue their work for a few days outside of the microscope.”

Becca Hanson, Ayla’s grandmother, also asked that her daughter, Trista Reynolds, be left alone for a couple of days.

“She’s really tired,” Hanson said of Ayla’s mother, who gave interviews on several national news programs last week.

Hanson said she believed Reynolds was planning to do something special in Ayla’s honor on Christmas Day, but did not know what it was.

“It’s going to be a hard day for her,” she said.

At 29 Violette Ave., the home where Ayla was last seen, the TV news vans and curious onlookers that have been present daily were gone Saturday morning. Evidence tape now seals all the windows and doors, including the side door where investigators were seen entering the home Thursday and Friday.

An empty Waterville police car was parked in front of the empty driveway.

Violette Avenue resident Jerry Nye, 51, was there to place a stuffed animal among a shrine of assorted toys and Christmas stockings that community members have left on the front lawn.

Nye has lived on the quiet residential street for six years. He said last week’s events have had a palpable impact on the neighborhood.

“It’s going to be somber for a while, there’s no question,” he said. “I’m glad to see there’s at least some outpouring of support in the neighborhood anyway.”

He said the toddler’s disappearance is made worse by the holiday.

“It won’t be a Merry Christmas for me,” he said.

Ayla was reported missing by her father, Justin DiPietro, just before 9 a.m. on Dec. 17, some 10 to 12 hours after he said she was put to bed, according to police.

Ayla had been living with her father since child welfare workers intervened while her mother checked into a 10-day rehabilitation program in October.

Police said Ayla was last seen wearing green one-piece pajamas with polka dots, with the words “Daddy’s Princess” on them. She is 2 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 30 pounds. Her left arm is in a soft cast.

Trista Reynolds’ father, Ronald Reynolds, said he can hear his granddaughter in his mind calling to him, “Papa, come and get me.”

“Somebody knows something and I ask and I beg and I plead and ask everybody if you know anything please bring her home to us. We want her home.”

– Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

[email protected]

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