GORHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- This weekend will mark one year since toddler Ayla Reynolds disappeared from her father's home in Waterville. Ayla's mother, Trista Reynolds, says she is hopeful that this anniversary will lead to information that can bring Ayla home.
Ayla's father, Justin DiPietro, reported her missing from his home on Violette Avenue in Waterville on December 17. The last time anyone saw her was the night of the 16th, when DiPietro was there with his sister, Elisha, and his girlfriend, Courtney Roberts. Police say the story the three have given does not pass the straight face test.
State Police and the Maine Warden Service have conducted multiple searches for Ayla both in nearby rivers and in the woods, but have come up empty. On May 31, State Police announced that it was highly unlikely that Ayla would be found alive. She was 20 months old at the time of her disappearance, and her arm was in a cast, though police said they believe that break was accidental.
Trista Reynolds said she's glad there's interest in Ayla's case as we approach the one year mark because she was beginning to fear that people were forgetting about her little girl. Reynolds spends her days caring for Ayla's younger brother, Raymond, who is now 20 months old himself. She says he's the one who keeps her going when she starts to lose faith that Ayla will be found. "He likes to do little things that are big reminders of Ayla that puts that smile on my face. And he does little things at the right times," Reynolds said.
Reynolds said she rarely hears from State Police investigators anymore, and that makes her nervous that they are giving up on Ayla. "Everybody says I have to trust in them, but my trust is slowly fading, and it's just -- contact is barely at all."
Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland said the investigation is still active, and while there are no new developments, State Police are planning a news conference to update the public on Friday.
Reynolds also said she blames herself sometimes because the reason Ayla was staying with her father was that Reynolds was in rehab for alcoholism. Reynolds said, "Everyone keeps saying I'm being hard on myself and I have to stop, but there's always going to be this one part of me that's going to blame myself, beat myself up and just hate myself for everything that's happened."
But, Reynolds said, she is proud of her sobriety, and she will continue to try to stay positive, even though she knows that the chances of Ayla's returning to her alive are small. "There's just that little part of me that has to have that faith and hope that I'm going to see Ayla again and I am and that I'm going to be able to hold her and love her and have her here with us," Reynolds said.
There are two vigils planned in Ayla's memory. The first one, "Shining Hope for Ayla," is scheduled for this Saturday, December 15, from 6-8 p.m. at the Riverton Community Center; 1600 Forest Avenue in Portland. It is organized by Reynolds and the group LostNMissing, that supports families of missing children. If you come, you are asked to bring a wrapped, unisex gift that will be sent to children affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The second event, "Peace for Ayla," sponsored by her Facebook supporters, takes place Monday, December 17, from 6-7 p.m. at the Lutheran Church; 36 Cool Street in Waterville. There will be a walk to Violette Avenue from there. You can learn more about both of these events by clicking here.