2011-12-28 / Maine

Search for toddler in 11th day; 330 leads

WATERVILLE ( AP) — Police said Tuesday they’ve received more than 300 leads from the public in their search for a toddler who vanished from her dad’s home a week before Christmas.

“These leads have poured in from around the nation, including several from as far away as California,” Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said in a statement. “Our detectives are working to thoroughly investigate these leads, requesting assistance from investigators across America when necessary. This has truly become a national effort.”

With the search for 20- month-old Ayla Reynolds in its 11th day, police said they had received about 330 leads from people who believe they have information to offer.

About 100 of the leads were offered since Monday, when police announced that a $ 30,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Ayla’s return. Money for the reward was donated by businesses and residents in Waterville, about 20 miles north of Augusta.

Despite the estimated 5,000 hours investigators and searchers from the Maine Warden Service said they’ve spent trying to locate Ayla, there were no major breaks in the case as of Tuesday.

Ayla was reported missing Dec. 17 by her father, Justin DiPietro, who told police he last saw her the previous night when he put her to bed in his Waterville home. He said she was wearing polka dot pajamas with the words “Daddy’s Princess” on them and had a cast on her broken left arm.

Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, has been living in South Portland, about 75 miles to the south.

Ayla ended up with her father after child welfare workers intervened while her mother checked herself into a 10- day rehabilitation program, which she has completed.

Police said that following “an intensive, thorough and exhaustive search” in and around Ayla’s home, they concluded that she did not leave on her own. Ayla’s small, 2- foot- 9 stature, injured arm and limited mobility because she only recently learned to walk made it even more unlikely she left on her own, police said.

Ground searches continued Tuesday as investigators tried to piece together the circumstances surrounding Ayla’s disappearance. All four agencies that initially responded to Ayla’s disappearance — Waterville police, state police, the Maine Warden Service and the FBI — remained on the case.

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