WATERVILLE, Maine – With the ground clear of winter's snow, about 100 searchers aided by tracking dogs failed to turn up any new clues Saturday as they renewed their search for a Maine toddler who's been missing for more than three months.
Volunteers, firefighters and game wardens met with police Saturday morning, then began searching woods and fields in Waterville for any sign of Ayla Reynolds, Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said.
Searchers targeted places that were not thoroughly searched over the winter when the ground was covered with snow.
"The weather conditions were ideal, and the snow's gone, so that's why the ground search was resumed today," McCausland said.
Ayla was 20 months old when she was last seen the night of Dec. 16 at her father's home in Waterville. She was reported missing the following morning when her father, Justin DiPietro, said he discovered her bed empty.
Ayla's mother, Trista Reynolds, lives in Portland.
Police are treating her disappearance as a crime, but no one has been charged. An undisclosed amount of Ayla's blood was found in the partially finished basement that DiPietro used as his bedroom, and police have said DiPietro and two other adults in the home that night haven't been totally forthcoming.
DiPietro has said he has no idea what happened to his daughter or who is responsible.
Police have received 988 tips and searched a five-mile swath around DiPietro's home, McCausland said. Maine State Police, the Maine Warden Service and Waterville police have spent more than $100,000 in overtime alone on the case, he said.
Investigators continue to interview people and the crime lab continues to analyze items connected to the case, but talks with DiPietro, his girlfriend and sister have broken down, McCausland said.
"They have stopped talking to us," he said.
DiPietro did not immediately respond to a message left Saturday on his cellphone.
Although searchers found no signs of Ayla, they found the remains of 53-year-old Steven Brandon of Waterville, who was reported missing in 2004, along Messalonskee Stream, McCausland said.
The remains have been taken to the state medical examiner's office, but foul play is not suspected in his death.
Brandon's identification was found among the remains, he said.