Missing Maine Toddler Ayla Reynolds: Dive Teams to Search Waters

PHOTO:Ayla Reynolds is shown in this undated photo. Police in Maine are appealing to the public for help in locating the 20-month-old girl who was last seen December 16, 2011.
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The search for missing 20-month-old toddler Ayla Reynolds will now involve dive teams from the Maine Warden Service who will search bodies of water around the Maine town where the girl disappeared nearly a month ago.

The search for Ayla, who went missing from her father's home Dec. 17, will continue today, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland, who told the Associated Press that the warden service selected the underwater areas that will be searched.

Divers will search in the early morning and into the afternoon and, McCausland said, the locations of the dives will be made public today.

A stretch of Maine's Messalonskee Stream was drained last month so authorities could get a better look for the missing tot, but the search, which took place on the ground and from an airplane overhead, was fruitless.

Ayla's father, Justin DiPietro, reported the toddler missing on Dec. 17, telling police he put the girl to bed the night before and found her missing in the morning.

The girl had been placed in his custody weeks before by the Department of Health and Human Services because her mother, Trista Reynolds, had entered rehab for substance abuse, according to Trista Reynolds' relatives.

The toddler's grandmother, Becka Hanson, told the Morning Sentinel that she had been watching Ayla while her daughter, Trista, was in rehab, but that Ayla was taken by the DHS and placed with DiPietro.

Trista's other child, a 9-month-old boy, remained in the Reynolds' family custody.

Searches of a nearby river and aerial searches have turned up nothing. Waterville police chief Joseph Massey said the police are following every lead that comes in from the public, and have not ruled out abduction.

Waterville police, state police, game wardens and the FBI are all involved in the search, with more than 75 law enforcement agents now helping the investigation, Massey said. Twenty-five agents helped conduct the river search, which Massey called a "logical" step because of its proximity to where Ayla was last seen.

The state police department has now taken over the investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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