WATERVILLE — Divers found a safe, a knife and a backpack in Messalonskee Stream Friday, but they didn’t find any evidence that would lead them to missing toddler Ayla Reynolds.

Dive teams from the Maine Warden Service and Maine State Police returned to Waterville Friday to search for clues that would lead them to the 22-month-old, who was reported missing seven weeks ago. The items they found were unrelated to the case, Lt. Kevin Adam of the warden service said during a press conference on Water Street.

“There’s nothing we feel can be attributed to her right now,” he said.

Divers searched the Kennebec River underneath and downstream from the Carter Memorial Bridge and Messalonskee Stream below the North Street bridge. Teams searched the same bodies of water on Jan. 11.

Adam said last month’s searches were incomplete. Divers had considered returning earlier, but poor weather prevented it.

Weather was clear and sunny Friday, with temperatures in the high 20s.

“Once we search these areas, there will be more areas,” he said.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said later Friday that the teams were “looking for clues to where she might be.”

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said at the press conference police need tips to crack the case, and he reiterated that a $30,000 reward is available to anyone who has information that could lead investigators to Ayla.

“We know there’s someone out there with information that could help us find Ayla,” he said. “I’m encouraging, I’m asking, I’m pleading: If anybody has any information, please come forward and let us know.”

Massey added tipsters will remain anonymous.

McCausland said investigators are receiving fewer tips from the public that they were in the first weeks after the toddler disappeared. At the last press conference in early January, McCausland said investigators received about 600 tips during the first three weeks of the investigation. At seven weeks, the number of tips had climbed to about 700.

McCausland prefaced all remarks by saying he wouldn’t disclose any investigative details about the case, but he confirmed that police have recently been in contact with the three adults who were in 29 Violette Ave. the night before Ayla was reported missing from the home: Justin DiPietro, Ayla’s father; his girlfriend Courtney Roberts; and sister Elisha DiPietro.

Asked if they were cooperating with the investigation, McCausland stopped short of a direct answer.

“There has been contact, and we hope that contact will continue,” he said.

He added that police still believe Justin and Elisha DiPietro and Courtney Roberts know more about Ayla’s disappearance than they’re sharing.

“We have grave doubts that an abduction ever took place there,” he said.

McCausland also confirmed that Ayla’s paternal grandmother, Phoebe DiPietro, was not in the home the night before the toddler was reported missing. In early January, Phoebe DiPietro’s whereabouts was a subject of controversy after she told a CNN reporter that she hadn’t heard anything that night, but she later said she was not in the home. McCausland wouldn’t say where she was, but said investigators confirmed she was at a different location.

During the investigation of the DiPietro home, police removed several hundred pieces of potential evidence, including blood samples belonging to Ayla. McCausland said investigators continue to study the evidence at the state police crime lab.

McCausland also said investigators are holding out hope that Ayla is alive, but he acknowledged steep odds.

“I’ll be candid, it’s been 48 days,” he said. “Our concern grows every day, but we remain hopeful we’re going to find her.”

Ben McCanna — 861-9239
[email protected]


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