I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and sincere appreciation for the enormous amount of community support that law enforcement officers received during this very difficult and emotional investigation into the disappearance of 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds of Waterville.

It has been a humbling experience to witness the compassion, generosity, encouragement and thoughts and prayers extended to all investigators working to bring Ayla home.

What a wonderful demonstration of community spirit that transcends all other community efforts that I have experienced in my 25 years as a Waterville Police officer.

It is a testament to the good will of all citizens in the greater Waterville area.

During the first two weeks of the investigation, more than 75 officers and investigators from local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies worked around the clock to find Ayla. In addition, local firefighters, volunteer groups, emergency management agencies, individuals and organizations, numbering in the hundreds, participated in coordinated searches to locate Ayla.

One of the most challenging logistics for the Waterville Police Department was the distribution and cost of feeding so many people.

Through the generosity of individuals, businesses, restaurants and food chains in the greater Waterville area, the dilemma was solved quickly. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were donated daily to investigators stationed at the police department and those working in the field.

Many businesses offered to feed officers any time it was convenient for them to stop at their establishments.

One of the most touching offers was from individuals who offered to Christmas shop for investigators who would not have time to do that for their families during this intensive investigation.

Another generous offer was from the individuals who stepped forward and offered a $30,000 reward for information that would lead investigators to Ayla. This was the largest reward ever offered in the history of a missing person case in Maine.

Thousands of dollars worth of food and many hours of service have been donated by hundreds to find little Ayla.

I cannot begin to express my thanks to all of those who have become involved in this effort to find Ayla.

In their own way, all of them have contributed greatly to this investigation by allowing law enforcement to fully focus on the investigation and not be distracted by other needs.

We will continue to commit every available resource to find Ayla, no matter how long that takes.

All the law enforcement officers involved in this case want to thank the people for their continued support and encouragement.

Joseph Massey is chief of the Waterville Police Department.

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