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Mom Wants Answers From Father In Missing Maine Toddler Search

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Ayla Reynolds. (Photo credit: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

Ayla Reynolds. (Photo credit: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

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WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) — A plane circled overhead, wardens searched a stream and residents joined in canvassing a neighborhood for any signs of a missing 20-month-old girl on Monday, but there were still no clues to the whereabouts of the blond-haired toddler who was last seen sleeping in pajamas that proclaimed “Daddy’s Princess.”

Ayla Reynold’s mother, Trista Reynolds, said she and the girl’s father had been unable to get along in the last few weeks and that she filed court paperwork seeking sole custody of the toddler on Thursday, the day before Ayla was last seen sleeping in her bed.

She said she didn’t think the father knew about the court paperwork.

WBZ-TV’s Lauren Leamanczyk reports

“I’ve had no contact with him; he’s had no contact with me. All I know is he’s the last man to see my daughter, and all I want to know is where she is,” Trista Reynolds said ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday.

A phone number for Justin DiPietro couldn’t immediately be located. Police were posted outside his house on Monday and said DiPietro was not home.

The Maine Warden Service was focusing its search efforts Monday on Messalonskee Stream, which passes a few blocks from the father’s home. The FBI and Maine State Police were also assisting Waterville police in the investigation, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Many residents joined in the search. Carrie Harvey, who lives nearby, found a sippy cup in the neighborhood and turned it over to a warden.

“It’s sad. Christmas is right around the corner. My heart cries out for that lady,” Harvey, a mother of five, said of Ayla’s mother.

Over the weekend, police appealed for the public’s help in finding the youngster after the father called police Saturday morning to report that his daughter was not in her bed and couldn’t be found. Ayla was last seen Friday night.

Ayla was last seen wearing green one-piece pajamas with polka dots and the words “Daddy’s Princess” on them. She had a soft cast on her left arm; Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said Ayla broke her arm in a fall three weeks ago.

Investigators interviewed the father, who lives in Waterville, and the mother, who lives in Portland, as well as other family members, Massey said. The parents were cooperative, the chief said.

The father moved four to six weeks ago to his childhood home on Violette Street in a tidy neighborhood of ranch houses built after World War II, a neighbor said. A few blocks away is a park, alongside the stream.

A state police evidence van was parked outside DiPietro’s gray, vinyl-sided bungalow on Monday, and two state troopers were stationed outside.

“It’s just so sad, so sad. I hope we end up with a live child,” said Ellen Paul, a retired Colby College employee who lives across the street from DiPietro’s home. “I’m heartbroken for anybody to go through that kind of pain.”

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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