Authorities continued their search for missing Waterville toddler Ayla Reynolds Monday as they combed a wooded area in Oakland.
The search lasted all morning but once again turned up no signs of the missing girl.
Police say Monday’s search came as the result of a tip they’d received awhile back and this was not the first time they’ve searched the area.
Monday, 30 searchers, including K-9 units and a dive team, combed the area just off the Hussey Hill Road in Oakland as word spread quickly through the neighborhood who they were looking for.
“We’re a little uneasy to know that she might be out here. But no one really knows for sure. Kinda hope not,” said David Stevens who lives in neighborhood.
The area just off the Hussey Hill Road, including a small dirt road called Nike Lane, had been searched in the past as the result of a tip police recieved, but State Police Spokesman Steve McCausland said Monday’s search was a comprehensive. The area lies just 5.4 miles from her father’s Waterville home where Ayla was last seen alive. Just after 1:00, authorities briefed reporters.
“The update is we did not find Ayla,” McCausland told a slew of reporters.
Lt. Kevin Adam, search and rescue coordinator for the Maine Warden Service said they used what’s known as a grid search. That’s where searchers stand shoulder-to-shoulder and search an area to make sure every inch is covered.
“We have not found anything that we can attribute to Ayla today,” Adam said. “I wouldn’t say that this area was eliminated…but I haven’t seen where we’ve missed anybody on a grid search.”
McCausland says this is the largest search they’ve conducted in the case since last year. The disappearance of Ayla Reynolds has become the largest criminal investigation in state history. Police have maintained the three people who were in the home the night Ayla was reported missing in December of 2011, her father Justin DiPietro, his girlfriend Courtney Roberts and sister Elisha DiPietro, know more than they’re saying.
McCausland was asked if investigators need to find a body in order to prosecute the person or persons responsible for her death but deflected the question.
“That’s an investigative detail I’m not going to get into. Our focus has been from day one to today to find little Ayla and we’re going to continue that effort,” he said.
The frustration of Ayla’s mother boiled over last month as she chased Justin DiPietro through the streets of Portland yelling at him after she publicly proclaimed she was “losing faith” in the state police after their lack of progress in the case. McCausland says despite the criticism state police investigators are as committed to finding Ayla today as they were on day one.