Mother of Ayla Reynolds Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Missing Girl's Father

Ayla Reynolds was 20 months old when she vanished after staying at her father's Waterville, Maine home in December 2011.

Ayla Reynolds was 20 months old when she vanished from her father's Waterville home in December 2011.

The mother of Ayla Reynolds, a Maine toddler whose 2011 disappearance prompted the largest criminal investigation in the state’s history, has sued her daughter’s father in an effort to learn “what really happened” to her little girl.

“Today marks seven years since Ayla was taken from me,” Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, said at a press conference Monday announcing she was filing a wrongful death suit against her daughter's father, Justin DiPietro. “Not a day goes by that I am not haunted by what happened to Ayla. For seven years I’ve asked myself who would want to hurt such an innocent little girl.”

Ayla was 20 months old when she vanished in December 2011.

She had been staying with DiPietro, who reported her missing Dec. 17. Police said he told them he put Ayla to bed and that she was gone when he checked on her the next morning.

That month, DiPietro said in a statement through local police that he had “no idea what happened to Ayla, or who is responsible.”

“I have shared every piece of information with the police,” he said. 

Investigators would go on to find blood that was determined to be Ayla’s in the basement of DiPietro’s Waterville home, Maine State Police said.

“Investigators have ruled out any possibility that Ayla left the house on her own or that she was abducted,” state police said, according to ABC News. “Adults who were in the home are withholding information. Police believe that Ayla is probably dead.”

In 2017, a court order declared Ayla died on or around Dec. 17, 2011. No one was ever charged in her death, and the case remains open.

The wrongful death complaint against DiPietro was filed on Nov. 30. 

The suit “demands judgment and damages against Justin DiPietro” and alleges Reynolds has “suffered damages as a result of Ayla's wrongful death, including but not limited to professional fees and expenses that were required to petition the Probate Court for a presumption of death order; emotional distress; loss of comfort society and companionship; and other pecuniary injuries,” ABC News reported.

But most importantly, it is a tool to find the truth, Reynolds and her attorney, William Childs, said. 

“(The lawsuit is about) trying to find out how Ayla was killed, why Ayla was killed and where Ayla was killed,” Childs said. 

As she spoke to reporters, Reynolds held a photo of DiPietro, who she said she and her family have been unable to locate for a year. Childs said an official recently tried to serve DiPietro with a summons but was unable to find him.’s attempts to reach DiPietro were unsuccessful. 

“Justin, I promise you, wherever you are, one day you will have to face me and tell me the truth of what really happened to Ayla,” Reynolds said Monday. “You can’t hide from this forever.”