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Police: Missing Maine toddler Ayla Reynolds believed to be dead

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:32 PM EDT, Thu May 31, 2012
Police are searching for 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds, who was last reported seen Friday night.
Police are searching for 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds, who was last reported seen Friday night.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ayla Reynolds was 20 months old when her father reported her missing
  • 166 days later, her body hasn't been found and no one's been named a suspect
  • A police spokesman says "nothing" leads authorities to "believe she's alive"
  • He says he believes that Ayla's father "knows more than he has told us"

(CNN) -- Maine authorities gave their most dire judgment yet Thursday as to what they believe happened to missing toddler Ayla Reynolds, with a police spokesman saying "there's nothing we have found that leads us to believe she's alive."

"Based on everything we know -- the thousands of hours of investigation, the 1,127 leads that have come in, the searches, the dives and the evidence gathered -- we think it's highly unlikely that Ayla Reynolds will be found alive," said state police spokesman Stephen McCausland. "Nothing points us in that direction.

Ayla was 20 months old when her father, Justin DiPietro told police he had put her to bed around 8 p.m. on December 16 in a first-floor bedroom of her grandmother's Waterville, Maine, home. The toddler's father, her aunt and the father's girlfriend were in the home at that time. DiPietro called police the next morning, just before 9 a.m., to report Ayla missing.

Authorities believe, as they have said previously, that there was "foul play" involved in the girl's disappearance and they opened a criminal probe, McCausland told reporters Thursday. But her body has not been found and no one has been named a suspect in the case.

"She did not leave that home by herself, and she was not abducted," the state police spokesman said.

On Thursday, as he has done previously, McCausland suggested the adults in the house with Ayla the night before she was reported missing -- including her father -- have not been totally forthcoming.

The police spokesman said there has not been "a lot of communication with the three adults who were inside the home that night." At the same time, he said "it's way premature to start speculating on charging anyone."

"They were the adults and they were there, and they may have answers," said McCausland. "Justin was the father, (and) we believe he knows more than he has told us."

Authorities called Ayla's parents shortly before Thursday's press conference to tell them they'd be stating they presume their daughter is dead.

The toddler's mother, Trista Reynolds, was "thankful for the call," said McCausland, as was DiPietro.

As for the father, "His reaction was no reaction," the spokesman said.

Local attorney John Nale announced at Thursday's press conference that the $30,000 reward offered for information leading to Ayla or the arrest of the person or persons responsible for her disappearance would expire at the end of June.

The hope is that someone will come forward in the next 30 days. Even if they do not, authorities vow that the lapse in the reward offer has no bearing on the investigation. To that point, McCausland promised there will be more searches and that -- even though police are now stating they believe Ayla is dead -- "this is still a missing person's case."

"We are committed to this investigation, no matter how long it takes," said Waterville Police Chief Joe Massey, noting two members of his department will remain assigned to the case.

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