New developments in the case of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds paint a conflicting view of what might have happened to the Waterville, Maine, toddler and bring the baby's father under scrutiny. The baby's father, Justin DiPietro, went on television Monday for the first time since Ayla disappeared, making an unusual plea on NBC's Today Show:
"What you're doing isn't right. You may think what you're doing is right for Ayla, but it's not. You have no right. You're not her parent. She belongs home with her family," DiPietro said.
Although DiPietro has previously said through police he has no idea what happened to Ayla, according to WABI, his current statement suggests otherwise. Rather than issue a general plea for the baby's return, recognizing a kidnapper may have taken her for personal gratification or pecuniary gain, DiPietro addressed only the possibility that someone took the girl to protect her.
Peter Hyatt's Seamus O'Riley blogspot, which publishes statement analysis on missing persons cases, commented on this discrepancy Tuesday:
"How is it that he has "no idea" what happened to her, yet here he assumes she was taken by someone who thought she would be in better care? This sounds like a ruse."
The blog pointed out in a post Monday the oddity of a parent telling a kidnapper, "You're not her parent," as if the kidnapper were somehow unaware of that fact.
But DiPietro made even more unusual statements in a follow-up interview with WGME News. Refusing to answer whether he thinks he knows who took Ayla, he confirmed his belief that someone took her with the goal of providing better care than her family has provided. He added, " Ayla probably thinks this is some sort kind of a game. She adapts real well. I have to believe she is being cared for. And I'm sure she has adapted to this situation."
Ayla's mother, Trista Reynolds, told NBC Today Thursday that she is looking to DiPietro to answer questions about what happened to Ayla.
"…Just talk to me. That's all I want. He was the last one to see her alive…" she pleaded.
Reynolds' apparent acknowledgement that her daughter is deceased follows past statements of concern for the child's safety with her father. Reynolds noted that during the short time Ayla stayed with DiPietro, she ended up with a broken arm and bruises and ultimately disappeared. Reynolds filed to regain custody two days before DiPietro reported Ayla missing.
Asked whether she thinks DiPietro was involved in Ayla's disappearance, Reynolds said, "Part of me feels yes, and a part of me feels no."
DiPietro dismissed Reynolds' concerns in a statement released by police last week. As reported by WABI, DiPietro said, "I would never do anything to hurt my child. The questions of Ayla's arm or bruises or anything else being said are simply ludicrous. I would never want anyone to spend even a minute in my shoes. No should ever have to experience this."
That statement rang alarm bells for several reasons. DiPietro didn't directly deny that he hurt his daughter; he dismissed concern over how the baby got hurt as "ludicrous," denying the reasonableness of questioning a baby's broken arm and independent bruises, regardless of his ultimate responsibility or lack thereof for the injuries; and he spoke of his own suffering rather than the possible suffering of his child, the alleged kidnap victim.
The Waterville police announced Friday that the case is being treated as a criminal investigation due to unspecified evidence of "foul play," the Boston Herald reported.
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