WATERVILLE — A Clinton man has been charged with breaking windows at the house of the family of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds.

Jeremy Hanson, 19, of 1372 Main St., Clinton, was summoned Monday night on charges of criminal mischief and violating conditions of release. Hanson admitted using a baseball bat to smash two windows at 29 Violette Ave. on Feb. 3, according police Chief Joseph Massey.

Earlier Monday night, Officer Alden Weigelt, acting on an anonymous tip, called Hanson to the police station for questioning. Hanson came to the station voluntarily, Massey said.

“(Weigelt) confronted him with the information he had,” Massey said. “After some conversation, Jeremy admitted that he had broken the windows.”

Hanson said he acted alone, according to Massey.

On Feb. 3, Hanson parked on nearby Purington Street and walked to the home with a bat. After smashing the windows, Hanson fled to his car and drove away, Massey said.

Later, Hanson threw the bat away in a garbage can, but police have not been able to find it because the garbage has since been picked up, Massey said.

Massey said Hanson told police he broke the windows because he is frustrated over the toddler’s disappearance and believes her father, Justin DiPietro, is withholding information from investigators.

“(Hanson) is basing this on information that he has been getting from Facebook pages. He’s convinced Justin knows more about Ayla’s disappearance than what he has told,” Massey said.

Massey said investigators believe Hanson knew Justin DiPietro before the disappearance of Ayla, who was 20 months old when she was reported missing Dec. 17.

“There is a connection there,” he said. “I’m not ready to classify it as friends, good friends or acquaintances, but he appears to have known Justin DiPietro.”

Hanson could not be reached for comment. The phone number associated with his address is not in service.

Massey said Hanson’s description of the vandalism is consistent with information provided by the home’s owner, Phoebe DiPietro. The location of Hanson’s parked car is also corroborated by findings from a search with police dogs. The trail grew cold at the location on Purington Street where Hanson said he parked his car, Massey said.

Criminal mischief, a class D misdemeanor, carries a jail sentence of no more than one year and a fine of no more than $1,000. Hanson also faces a charge on violating conditions of release stemming from 2011 charges of driving to endanger, criminal mischief and reckless conduct with a weapon. Massey added that he hopes Hanson will be required to pay for the damages, estimated at $300.

He is scheduled to appear May 8 in Waterville District Court.

Hanson is not related to Jeff Hanson of Portland, who maintains www.aylareynolds.com. Jeff Hanson is the stepfather of Ayla Reynolds’ mother, Trista Reynolds.

Massey said he is happy to have charged someone in the incident, which he described as cowardly.

“Quite frankly, I’m very, very pleased we were able to solve this,” he said.

Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland said the incident was an “unfortunate diversion to the main task” of finding Ayla, but added state police are impressed by the speedy resolution.

“We are pleased by the quick action that Waterville Police took to charge the person responsible for the vandalism,” he said.

Waterville police went to the house the night of Feb. 3 after a 911 call from homeowner Phoebe DiPietro, Justin DiPietro’s mother. She reported someone was throwing things through windows.

Phoebe DiPietro, her daughter, Elisha DiPietro, and Elisha’s 19-month-old daughter, Gabriella, were home when the windows were broken. No one was injured.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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