7 Years After Her 3-Year-Old Vanished, Mom Sues Dad Who Last Saw Girl: ‘You Can’t Hide From This’
Trista Reynolds filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Justin DiPietro, the father of their daughter, Ayla Reynolds, who vanished in 2011
Trista Reynolds wants to know what happened to her daughter Ayla, who was 20 months old when she vanished from Maine after last being seen with her father.
Hoping for answers, Reynolds filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday in Portland, accusing the child’s father, Justin DiPietro, of causing Ayla’s death, multiple outlets report.
“Not a day goes by that I’m not haunted by what happened to Ayla,” Reynolds said at a press conference Monday after filing the lawsuit with her attorney, William Childs, local station WGME reports.
“Did Ayla cry out for me?” Reynolds said. “Did she wonder where I was, knowing I should have been there to protect her and save her?”
On Dec. 17, 2011, DiPietro was staying at his mother’s home in Waterville when he called 911 to report that Ayla had gone missing, WGME reports.
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DiPietro said he put Ayla, who was wearing pajamas that read “Daddy’s Princess,” to bed the night before and by the next morning, she was gone, WGME reports.
Police began searching for the child in what became the largest criminal investigation in the state’s history, Boston.com and the Associated Press report.
DiPietro said Ayla was either kidnapped at night or wandered away from the house, the Bangor Daily News reports.
But police have ruled out these stories and have said they believe Ayla was the victim of “foul play” after finding blood in the DiPietro home, the Bangor Daily News reports.
“As we hit Ayla’s anniversary, I wonder if this is haunting you, Justin,” Reynolds said Monday, WGME reports. “I wonder if our daughter haunts your dreams or if you see her blue eyes when you close your eyes at night.”
A judge declared Ayla legally dead in 2017, AP reports. Her body has never been found.
Maine State Police spokesman Steve McCausland said Monday that the investigation remains active, Boston.com reports.
Reynolds is hoping the lawsuit will help locate DiPietro, whose last known address was in California, according to Boston.com.
PEOPLE’s attempts to reach DiPietro were not successful.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages from DiPietro for allegedly causing Ayla’s death through “intentional wrongful actions” and for allegedly subjecting the girl to “pre-death pain, fright, terror and physical injuries,” the Bangor Daily News reports.
But Reynolds’ lawyer, William Childs, said the lawsuit is more about “trying to find out how Ayla was killed, why Ayla was killed, and where Ayla was killed.”
Reynolds says she will not stop until she finds out what happened to her daughter. “For the last seven years, I’ve fought to get Ayla closure,” she said.
“I won’t stop fighting for justice,” she said Monday. “I’ll live inside a courtroom until the day I get my justice for her.”