As requested we’re going to go back and look at Masquerade’s Timeline originally posted at U4A.
The first post was published on 6/15/12. You can read the review of Part 1 here.
The second post was published on 6/20/12. You can read the review of Part 2 here.
The third post was published on 6/30/12. You can read the review of Part 3 here.
The fourth post was published on 7/14/12. You can read the review of part 4 here.
The fifth post was published on 8/7/12.
Thank you Mask for the time and research you put into this series.
April 1, 2012
• Ayla’s maternal family and Steve McCausland speak ofonline discussions.
When his wife’s young granddaughter disappeared, Jeff Hanson felt helpless as the family anxiously awaited word from law enforcement authorities. He decided he needed to do something constructive as the investigation, now more than three months long, drew out.
Hanson originally launched AylaReynolds.com to raise awareness, and it received more than 1 million hits. Little more than a week ago, he started a new website, answersforayala.com, to give the family a place to air its thoughts and to set the record straight on details. The website reported that DiPietro took out a life insurance policy on Ayla and details about blood evidence, information police have not confirmed.
But that’s only the beginning. There’s another blog, Justice For Ayla, that reported last week about a suspicious van seen near DiPietro’s house, and another blog that analyzes public statements made by those involved in the case, aiming to ferret out the truth. A blog entitled JustStopTheLies aims to debunk false claims.
Hanson said he passes along anonymous tips he gets to police, and he hopes that they provide information police need to bring Ayla home. He tries not to let his mind entertain the possibility that something bad happened.
“I’m holding out for the best,” Hanson said. “That’s how we get by every day.”
“We have a new information age where there are many tools available for the public to either participate or inform themselves. The websites are part of that. In this case, it’s all positive because it keeps her name out there,” said Stephen McCausland of the Maine Public Safety Department.
After being placed in his custody, Ayla broke her arm. DiPietro said she broke it when he fell on stairs while carrying Ayla and groceries. They say Ayla suffered bruises on one occasion that DiPietro blamed on a scuffle with another child and on another occasion suffered a pulled leg muscle that the father blamed on “horseplay.”
> ** He didn’t return a message left on his cell phone. **
The family is taking it day by day.
“It’s not easy,” said Ronald Reynolds, Ayla’s grandfather. “It’s not easy at all to go through every day, not knowing if she’s OK, if she’s being taken care of.”
He said he’s begun to fear the worst. But regardless of the outcome, the family needs to know what happened.
Trista Reynolds believes Justin DiPietro knows more than he’s telling: “I hope that soon enough he decides it’s been long enough and that he can’t hide her forever. What’s really on my mind on a daily basis, I’m wondering every day whether my daughter is dead or alive. That’s what I want to know.”
April 2, 2012
• With Ayla’s Birthday approaching, Trista, Becca, Justin, and Phoebe share memories.
Ayla Bell Reynolds was born April 4, 2010; 20 months later, she disappeared.
> Becca’s Memories:
After more than 24 hours of labor, Ayla was delivered on Easter Sunday at Mercy Hospital in Portland. She weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces and measured 17 inches. Hanson was in the delivery room and cut the umbilical cord. A nickname immediately popped into the grandmother’s mind.
“She was my Buggy,” she said. “Right after Trista and the midwife pulled her out, I looked at her, and she was my Buglet.”
Hanson said Ayla was her shadow. They spent every day together and developed a deep bond, she said.
“Sometimes I sit on the couch and I can see her running through the house,” she said. When the illusion ends, however, it’s heartbreaking.
“Ayla is special to me,” Hanson said. “I know grandparents aren’t supposed to have one favorite grandchild, but she is.”
> Trista’s Memories:
As Reynolds held her baby for the first time, she was awestruck.
“I was excited, and happy, but I was also scared at the same time,” she recalled. “But as soon as I held her and looked into her eyes, it felt amazing. It was the best day of my life, just knowing that I was finally able to hold her and see her and love her.”
“The minute I looked at her, I looked at my mom and said, ‘She looks like Justin, Mama.’” Reynolds said
“Taking care of her for the first month was scary, because I didn’t know what kind of mom I would be, or what kind of baby she was going to be,” she said. “But she was an amazing baby — she never cried, only woke up a couple of times during the night.”
“I would have people stop me on the side of the street and say, ‘Your daughter is so amazing. She is so funny and so full of life.’ People would literally honk at us.”
> Regarding Ayla’s disappearance:
Reynolds said every day is a challenge.
“I wake up, I pray that today will be the day that I get the phone call I’m anxiously waiting for. When it doesn’t come in, I feel a lot worse,” she said. “It’s a nightmare. It’s a never-ending nightmare.”
> Justin’s Memories:
In July 2010, Justin DiPietro, was asked to take a paternity test. When the test confirmed he was the father, DiPietro was asked by Reynolds to sign away his parental rights.
DiPietro resisted. He didn’t want Ayla to grow up without a father, like he had.
“I wanted to be there for her, because she deserved for me to be,” he said
DiPietro met Ayla for the first time in the fall of 2010.
“It was a really humbling experience,” DiPietro said of his first encounter with Ayla. “She looked exactly like me. There was no denying that she was my child.”
In October 2011, DiPietro’s role expanded further while Reynolds prepared to enter rehabilitation for alcohol abuse.
“That’s when it really hit me that I could be doing a lot more for my daughter than I am doing. And I had the opportunity to, so why wouldn’t I?” he said
DiPietro said Ayla was initially bashful in her new surroundings but grew more confident and outgoing as time went on.
> Regarding Ayla’s disappearance:
DiPietro contends his daughter was abducted from the home during the night while she slept by herself in her own room. Police think her disappearance was not a kidnapping.
“I wish I could go back to that night. I wish I could have had her sleeping right next to me, but I can’t,” he said.
> Phoebe’s Memories:
Phoebe DiPietro also said her granddaughter was timid at first, but she took a shine to story time.
“She loved books,” Phoebe DiPietro said. She said one of her favorite books was “Beaky’s Jungle.”
“It has colorful foil jungle animals, and a toucan took us around the jungle,” she said
April 3, 2012
• Ayla’s family and Law Enforcement ask for the public’s help, in the search for Ayla
Today, on Ayla’s second birthday, the family is asking people to search their property for any clues that might help investigators find the girl. The initiative is called a Gift for Ayla, and it first appeared last week on answersforayla.com, a blog maintained by Ayla’s step-grandfather Jeff Hanson.
“We can cover more ground in a day than has ever been done in this state,” the blog states. “It would be like signing a birthday card the length and breadth of Maine with ten thousand names in letters an acre high.”
According to the site, the idea sprang from a recent press conference in Waterville when Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland urged residents of greater Kennebec County to search their property for clues.
Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service, who has led several multi-agency searches in the Waterville area, said Tuesday he encourages residents to perform their own searches in this case.
“People should search their land,” he said. “We’ll get a whole bunch of free searching, and somebody might come up with a clue. I think it’s a good thing.”
McCausland said Tuesday he’s pleased with the effort he inadvertently inspired.
“It’s a wonderful gesture if homeowners decide to do that on Ayla’s birthday,” he said. “And, obviously, if there are any clues or signs, we want to hear from them.”
April 4, 2012 ~ Ayla Bell Reynolds’ 2nd Birthday
• Ayla’s Birthday Vigil ~ BDN Hope Emerges as Theme at Ayla Reynolds Birthday Vigil
“Today was the first day in three months that I didn’t think I’d be able to pull myself out of bed,” said Reynolds while gathering a car seat, a pacifier and a stroller for her son Raymond as they prepared to depart for a vigil for Ayla in Portland’s Monument Square. “Then I looked at this little man walking around and I knew why I had to get out of bed.”
Jeff Hanson, Ayla’s step-grandfather, said the prospect of going out into public for the vigil weighed heavily on the family.
“In a way we wish we’d never organized this, but it’s for Ayla,” he said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to bring her home.”
“I’ve been crying all day,” said Reynolds. “I just keep thinking, is Ayla having a good day today? Is she enjoying her birthday? Is she OK?”
Ron Reynolds, Ayla’s maternal grandfather, said he is among those who are still clinging to hope.
“Every day is very, very hard,” he said. “I’m hoping this story has a happy ending. You’ve got to stay positive every day. You’ve got to keep going. You can’t give up.”
• Morning Sentinel article ~ Ayla Reynolds Birthday Draws Big Crowd
It was a birthday celebration writ large at Monument Square, but the guest of honor wasn’t there.
Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, encircled by a ring of cameras and microphones, said the celebration helped mask the pain of not knowing.
“I’m really hurt, more than anything, today. I’ve got a lot of hate towards certain people today,” she said. “I wasn’t able to wake up with Ayla … and play with her and get her ready for her birthday.”
Ayla’s grandfather, Ron Reynolds, said it’s time for someone to speak out. He said he doesn’t believe the three adults’ claims that they’ve told investigators all they know.
“You’re clamming up when you should be open,” he said. “You should sit down and talk with them, but it’s not happening. … We suffer every day. We don’t know where she is, but they do. They have the answers. Why not come out and say something? Why make us suffer every day? Why make this family hurt every day? Why make my granddaughter hurt every day, wherever she is?
“Answers need to come out now.”
Ronne Reynolds said he’s watched he’s watched his sister endure a lot over the past three months and she’s holding up well.
“Trista is probably the strongest woman I’ve met in my entire life,” he said. “She has her moments, her breakdowns; but other than that, she’s very strong.”
** Members of Ayla’s paternal family did not attend the event. **
Cynthia Caron, the founder of LostNMissing — a nonprofit group that works with families of missing persons — has been working closely with Ayla’s maternal family, and she helped organize the event. She also works closely with the Laura Recovery Center, another nonprofit that had been collaborating with Justin DiPietro.
She said communication with DiPietro ended in late January.
“We don’t know why conversations stopped,” she said.
Caron said being in the media spotlight is difficult for families of the missing, and people generally react to the pressure in one of two ways.
“They either withdraw from it, or they do the opposite — they just dive right in,” she said.
April 17, 2012
• Lance DiPietro plans a vigil for Ayla ~ Pleads not guilty to assault charges
“Even if I do get convicted, hopefully I’ll just get a fine or whatever,” he said. “I’m just hoping (the charge) gets dropped, honestly.”
The charge stemmed from a Feb. 6 incident when DiPietro allegedly kicked Linnell, 22, in the face after a brief scuffle in a parking lot off College Avenue, according to police.
Lance DiPietro was driven to and from the scene by Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro.
> Lances vigil plans for Ayla:
Also this week, Lance DiPietro is organizing a prayer vigil for his niece Ayla, who was reported missing Dec. 17. The vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Church of God, 392 Main St.
“I just want to get a bunch of friends, family and the community together,” DiPietro said. “I want there to be good energy, positive thinking and emotional support for Ayla. Hopefully we’ll get her back where she belongs.”
April 19, 2012
• Justin speaks for the 1st time, since January 2nd, at Ayla’s vigil planned by Lance
The father of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds told those attending a candlelight vigil Thursday night that it’s time to turn the focus back on his child.
It was the sixth vigil held for Ayla, who has been missing since Dec. 17, and it marked the first time Justin DiPietro has spoken publicly since Jan. 2, when he appeared on NBC’s “Today.”
“In the past four months and two days, this has kind of gotten off track,” he said. “It’s been about me, or it’s been about (Ayla’s mother) Trista (Reynolds), when it should have been about Ayla.”
About 60 people attended the vigil, which was held at New Beginnings Church of God on Main Street. Ushers outside the church prevented TV news cameras and a Morning Sentinel photographer from entering the building, at the request of Ayla’s uncle, Lance DiPietro, the vigil’s organizer. A Morning Sentinel reporter was allowed inside on condition that he would observe the event and not ask Ayla’s family questions.
DiPietro said he has been working with website This Little Light of Maine to raise awareness for his missing daughter.
“We now have 62 billboards that are up across the country. They’re in Washington, Oregon, California, Missouri, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio and there’s still more to come,” he said.
He said efforts to find Ayla should be positive.
“That’s about all we can do right now, is stay positive,” he said. “Every day doesn’t get any easier for me. Just please, please keep your eyes open and don’t stop, and we will get her home.”
Earlier in the day, Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland said that the investigation continues, but there are no updates.
Justin DiPietro contends Ayla was abducted. McCausland has said a kidnapping “did not happen.”
April 26, 2012
• Items found may relate to Ayla’a disappearance ~ BDN article
Items were recovered by investigators behind the Hathaway Creative Center in Waterville. McCausland would not disclose what the items were.
“We recovered some items yesterday. They will be reviewed like the hundreds of other items that have been found,” McCausland said Thursday evening.
McCausland said the items might relate to Reynolds, the 20-month-old who went missing from her father’s home on Dec. 17 in Waterville, or “they may have no relationship,” he said.
• Items found in Kennebec River ~ Morning Sentinel article
“Some items were recovered from the Kennebec River yesterday,” said Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland. “The items have been taken to the state police crime laboratory for analysis.”
McCausland wouldn’t offer details about what the items are, but said they were found near the Hathaway Mill, within the dam “sluiceway.”
“At this point we have no idea if it is in any way connected with the ongoing investigation, but our lab technicians will look at those items, as they have for all other items police have gathered since December.”
He declined to answer additional questions.