WATERVILLE — A lawyer for Ayla Reynolds’ father, Justin DiPietro, has requested a judge reject an effort to expand a wrongful death lawsuit against DiPietro, contending the statute of limitations for the allegations in the expanded lawsuit has expired.

In a filing Thursday at Cumberland County Superior Court, lawyer Michael Waxman also asked that DiPietro’s sister and mother not be included in the expanded lawsuit brought by Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds.

Waxman said new claims brought by Reynolds against DiPietro do not have merit and have drained DiPietro of time, energy and resources.

The motion came in response to Reynolds’ expanded complaint last month that asserted DiPietro and his family tried a decade ago to “clean up” Ayla’s blood and hid her body.

Justin DiPietro, the father of Ayla Reynolds, in 2013. Portland Press Herald file

Reynolds’ lawyer, William Childs, wrote in the complaint his office had an expert review the police evidence, and the resulting report includes evidence showing “the distribution of bloodstains of Ayla’s blood” throughout the Waterville house where she lived.

The amended complaint named Elisha DiPietro and Phoebe DiPietro, Justin DiPietro’s sister and mother, respectively, for the first time.


By expanding the lawsuit, all three defendants could face civil counts of wrongful death, conscious pain and suffering and wrongful interference with the body of a deceased person.

Additionally, Phoebe DiPietro could face a count of premises liability and Justin DiPietro a count of breach of a parent’s duty of care to a minor child.

In his filing Thursday, Waxman broke down the arguments against each of the additional counts. A wrongful death complaint has a two-year statute of limitations, he wrote, and adding Elisha DiPietro and Phoebe DiPietro now, five years after Ayla was declared legally dead, violates that limit.

Ayla Reynolds in the photograph that was distributed after she disappeared from a Waterville house in December 2011. She was 20 months old at the time. Courtesy photo

Conscious pain and suffering is not a valid civil complaint, Waxman said. Similarly, breach of a parent’s duty of care to a minor child and wrongful interference with the body of a deceased person are not civil offenses recognized in Maine, he said.

Waxman also argued against the other claims, at one point arguing a statute of limitations exists to “protect people from living under a threat of prosecution forever, to prevent people from having to defend old cases without access to evidence and witnesses that have disappeared over time and to give people finality, an ability to move on with their lives.”

In December 2011, Ayla was 20 months old and in the care of Justin DiPietro at his mother’s house at 29 Violette Ave. in Waterville. DiPietro called to report Ayla, who was blonde with blue eyes, missing on the morning of Dec. 17.


DiPietro has said that on the night Ayla went missing, he put her to bed at about 8 p.m., and his sister, Elisha DiPietro, checked on Ayla later in the evening.

Elisha DiPietro was home that night, as was Justin DiPietro’s then-girlfriend, Courtney Roberts. Justin DiPietro has maintained Ayla must have been abducted during the night.

Ayla’s disappearance launched the state’s largest and costliest investigation, but the child was never found and no charges have been filed in her disappearance.

Police have said they did not find evidence to suggest Ayla was abducted, and the adults who were at the house when Ayla disappeared know more than they are saying. Police have also said they think Ayla’s disappearance was the result of foul play.

In 2017, a probate judge declared Ayla legally dead and named Reynolds as the personal representative of Ayla’s estate.

Reynolds went on to file her original wrongful death lawsuit against Justin DiPietro in 2018 at Cumberland County Superior Court. The case has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Childs.


The wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case, meaning it would have to meet a lower burden of proof than a criminal case.

Waxman wrote in an email Thursday he has had a chance to review the report by the expert brought in by Reynolds’ legal team, and he does not see how it supports adding Elisha DiPietro and Phoebe DiPietro to the complaint or the additional counts against Justin DiPietro.

“This expert reminds me a little of Professor Hinkle from ‘Frosty the Snowman’ except that he is being paid a heck of a lot of money, I believe, to try and pull a rabbit out of a hat,” Waxman wrote. “Apparently he can see things that all of the Maine detectives and forensic scientists cannot, in over 10 years.”

Childs has said the forensic report is subject to a confidentiality order from the court. Attempts to reach Childs on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The amended complaint lists Justin DiPietro’s last known address as being in the Los Angeles area.

The Maine State Police investigation into Ayla’s disappearance is ongoing and investigators continue to ask anyone with information about the case to call 1-800-452-4664 or 207-624-7076 or leave anonymous tips on the Maine State Police website.

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