Will the weather be Justin DiPietro's undoing? Maine weather reports promise to play a key role in uncovering what happened to baby Ayla Reynolds and when. DiPietro said Ayla suffered a broken arm on a rainy night. That would mean the broken arm occurred earlier than previously reported, and very close to the time DiPietro took out insurance on Ayla's life.
The life insurance policy continues to dominate the news of the missing baby investigation. The Morning Sentinel published commentary by insurance industry insiders Tuesday, touting the commonness and benefits of such insurance. Dissenting views emerged in the blogosphere, with readers calling the piece "biased," and "ridiculous." Even readers accepting the premise there's nothing inherently suspect about buying life insurance on a baby pointed out DiPietro's case was anything but typical. DiPietro bought life insurance on a baby placed in his care for only five days.
Few Parents Buy Child Life Insurance
Only 15 percent of children in the United States are covered by an insurance policy, with the average amount in the range of $5,000, according to Bankrate. This coverage is often tacked onto parental policies to cover burial costs in case of the child's unexpected death.
Allianz Life of North America chair Bob MacDonald spoke out against child life insurance in 2003. He told Bankrate, "There are better ways to save money for college, the cost of a funeral isn't that onerous and the chance of a child becoming uninsurable as an adult is extremely small."
The average adult funeral cost in 2009 was about $6500, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Children's funerals cost considerably less. One mother who researched child funeral costs said it's often possible to bury a child free; for those paying, the average cost of a child's casket is $100. In Maine, where funeral home use is not required by law, an informally-arranged funeral can cost as little as $250, the New York Times noted.
Insurance on Ayla's Life
The Huffington Post said DiPietro took out a $25,000 policy on Ayla's life. The payout is some three to four times the cost of the average adult funeral. Police allegedly told Trista Reynolds, Ayla's mother, the insurance policy was taken out within a week of Oct. 17, Trista said on her blog. Heidi Tudela, who identifies herself online as mother of Derek Tudela, State Farm life insurance agent who sold the DiPietro policy, confirmed the policy's existence.
* DiPietro never had a hand in raising Ayla. He allegedly saw her only five times from Dec. 2010 until Oct. 17, 2011 when he brought Ayla to his home. On Oct. 20, he agreed to return Ayla to her mother's full-time care Oct. 22, Trista said.
* Although the DiPietro-Reynolds agreement, said to have been made with DHHS input, called for DiPietro to care for Ayla for a total of five days, more than two of which had already passed, he purchased insurance on her life. He also reneged on returning Ayla to Trista, she said.
* Ayla suffered a serious injury within days of the insurance purchase. Trista places the purchase in the approximate window Oct. 17 to 24. Ayla's arm appears to have been broken Oct. 19 or 20.
* DiPietro said Ayla's arm broke on a rainy night before the last day of his truck driver class at Lawrence Adult Education. That class ran Tuesdays and Thursdays for 16 sessions starting Sept. 6, placing the class end date Oct. 27.
* According to weather underground, the only nights it rained in Waterville, Maine between Oct. 17 and Nov. 5 were Oct 19, 20, and 22. Of those dates, only Oct. 19 preceded a scheduled class day of the truck driver class. Because driving sessions were sometimes held on Fridays, Oct. 20 is arguably a possible date for Ayla to have broken her arm. Oct. 22, a Saturday, would not fit the night before the last class scenario.
* Trista said DiPietro notified her Saturday Nov. 5 that he and his mother were taking Ayla to the emergency room. If Trista's account is correct, either DiPietro waited far longer than overnight, as he claimed, to seek treatment or the injury did not occur on a rainy night before his last truck driver class.
* Doctors initially expressed suspicion about Ayla's arm, Trista told Nancy Grace, but ultimately decided an accident was possible.
* DiPietro spoke to the condition of Ayla's arm before he reported her missing, "She wasn't bending it, but she would take (the splint) off sometimes, and she was getting to the point where she was starting to use that arm again." The report that a 20-month-old removed her splint seems questionable.
* Six weeks after buying life insurance, DiPietro reported Ayla missing. Police told WGME his kidnapping story doesn't meet the straight face test.
Whether the insurance policy was the motive for Ayla's reported disappearance or not, the circumstances surrounding its purchase are highly suspicious, and anything but ordinary.