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Missing Maine tot's dad: I don't know where she is

Dad of missing Maine toddler says he has no idea what happened to girl; search enters 5th day By The Associated Press

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) ' The father of a 20-month-old girl who disappeared from his home five days ago said in his first public statement that he doesn't know where she is.

Justin DePietro put Ayla Reynolds to bed on Friday night and called police to report her missing the following morning.

"I have no idea what happened to Ayla, or who is responsible," DiPietro said. "I will not make accusations or insinuations towards anyone until the police have been able to prove who's responsible for this."



DiPietro released the statement through the Waterville Police Department, saying his family and friends will do "everything we can to assist in this investigation and get Ayla back home."

The FBI launched a door-to-door canvass of neighbors to glean any information that may lead them to the little girl, city police Chief Joseph Massey said.

Investigators also dug through trash bins, drained a stream and pored over more than 100 leads offered by the public while methodically checking local woods, playgrounds and other areas.

On Tuesday, Massey refused to speculate on whether Ayla was alive, saying authorities are focused on finding her. The investigation remains a missing-person case, he said.

Ayla's mother, Trista Reynolds, said she's trying to remain optimistic that her daughter is OK. She planned to attend Wednesday's vigil.

Police said both of Ayla's parents, who live separately, continued to cooperate with them.

Trista Reynolds told The Associated Press that she and DiPietro never lived together as a couple and that he showed little interest in his daughter in the 18 months Ayla spent with her mother.

But Reynolds said a drinking problem prompted her to enter rehabilitation in Lewiston for 10 days in October. Although her mother and older sister cared for Ayla during that time, child welfare agents intervened to place the girl with DiPietro, Reynolds said.

Last week, Reynolds filed court papers that she hoped would lead to the return of her daughter. The filing occurred the day before Ayla was last seen in Waterville.

DiPietro said Tuesday that although he has sole custody of his daughter, "It has always been my intention to have a shared parenting arrangement with Ayla's mother and I will continue to work towards that when Ayla is returned to us."

___

Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland contributed to this report.


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