In a conversation Monday, Trista Reynolds, mother of missing baby Ayla Reynolds, answered questions about events in Ayla's life before her father Justin DiPietro reported her missing Dec. 17. Trista also shared her developing perspectives on the insurance policy DiPietro bought on Ayla's life and the timing of Ayla's disappearance.
Who Took Care of Ayla?
Trista said she is "now starting to wonder" who took care of Ayla during the time she lived with Justin. She suspects Phoebe DiPietro provided much of the childcare.
When she called Justin to talk to Ayla, he would often tell her, "Oh, you'll have to call my mom. She has Ayla."
Once DiPietro got involved in Ayla's life, Trista was "always concerned" about possible abuse, she said. She doesn't know whether police are considering an abuse angle in the investigation in light of Ayla's injuries in the DiPietro household, she said in response to an inquiry, noting she never asked police that question.
Trista provided several new details about Ayla's injuries and medical treatment. On Sept. 29, she took Ayla to the doctor for a leg injury she says occurred when Ayla was with Justin Sept. 22 to 23. As explained on the Answers for Ayla website operated by Trista's stepfather, Trista was initially advised to wait a week and see if the leg got better. When it didn't, she brought Ayla to the doctor and expressed her misgivings about Ayla's safety with Justin.
Trista said Monday, "I know the doctor called [DHHS]," as indicated in the medical report. What she doesn't know is whether that agency followed up.
She said she herself reported concerns about Ayla's injuries in the DiPietro household to DHHS on multiple occasions.
"DHHS blew me off," Trista said of those reports. It was her impression that DHHS caseworker supervisor Karen J. Small did not like her due to prior dealings between the Reynolds family and DHHS, unrelated to Ayla. Trista thinks Small's disdain for Trista's family led to inaction on the abuse reports.
Ayla's Broken Arm
There's been confusion in the blogosphere about Ayla's broken arm. Trista consulted her calendar in providing the following timetable:
* Nov. 5, Justin informed Trista he was taking Ayla to the emergency room. Trista was not present at the visit.
* With Justin and Ayla, Trista attended two follow-ups with an arm specialist, Nov. 7 and Nov. 21.
* Ayla's final appointment was set for Dec. 16, but Justin did not keep the appointment.
Trista noted she is getting medical records about the arm break Tuesday and is willing to make them public.
The last time Trista talked to Ayla was Dec. 8. One of the big questions being discussed on the internet is whether Ayla disappeared about that time or a week later when DiPietro reported her missing.
According to Jeff Hanson, Trista's stepfather, there have been no confirmed sightings of Ayla after Dec. 8.
Trista's on the fence about when Ayla actually disappeared, still trying to think through the puzzling events.
She said she tried to speak with her daughter "every single day. I never stopped. Every day I called."
After Dec. 8, Justin said "No. No, no, no, no, no," Trista recounted. In a January interview with Bangor Daily News, Trista described Justin's excuses, telling her Ayla was busy playing or napping.
Life Insurance and Trickery
Was Justin's purchase of insurance on Ayla's life sinister or innocent? Trista isn't sure. But she does feel discomfort about it. In trying to gain some perspective, she said she asked a bunch of parents she knows if they would buy life insurance on their babies. They all said no.
Trista feels Justin used trickery to obtain Ayla's social security number for the life insurance application.
"Justin asked for Ayla's social security number so Phoebe could open a college account like she had for [Ayla's cousin] Gabby," Trista said. But once he got the number, he used it to buy life insurance. He also used it to try to claim a tax deduction.
In 2010, Justin wanted to claim Ayla as a dependent, Trista noted, but she objected because Ayla lived with her, not him. For 2011, armed with Ayla's social security number, Justin went ahead and filed, Trista said, but the deduction didn't hold up since Ayla hadn't spent six months in the DiPietro household.