Mother of 20-month-old toddler who went missing 7 years ago sues absconding husband

Trista Reynolds has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Justin DiPetro, the father of their daughter Ayla who went missing more than seven years ago.

                            Mother of 20-month-old toddler who went missing 7 years ago sues absconding husband

A Maine mother who last saw her daughter over seven years ago has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the child's father, whom the toddler was last seen with before she suddenly disappeared.

Trista Reynolds alleges in the lawsuit that Justin DiPietro is responsible for the death of daughter Ayla, who was just 20-months-old when she went missing in December 2011.

Ayla's disappearance sparked what would become the largest criminal investigation in the state's history, and while her body has never been found, a judge declared the toddler legally dead in 2017. According to People, Reynolds has never stopped searching for answers and hopes that this lawsuit will help authorities locate DiPietro, whose current whereabouts are unknown.

"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 while speaking at a press conference. "You can’t hide from this forever."

"Not a day goes by that I'm not haunted by what happened to Ayla," she added, according to WGME. "As we hit Ayla's anniversary, I wonder if this is haunting you, Justin. I wonder if our daughter haunts your dreams or if you see her blue eyes when you close yours at night. I wonder if you even think about that night. That night you murdered her."

Ayla was staying with DiPietro at his mother's home in Waterville on the night of December 17, 2011, when he called 911 to report that the 20-month-old had gone missing. He told authorities that he had put the girl, who was wearing pajamas that read "Daddy's Princess," to bed the previous night and that when he woke up in the morning, she was gone.

He claimed that his daughter had either been kidnapped at night or wandered away on her own, but police ruled out that prospect after they found blood in his home and believe he is withholding information, and ruled her disappearance a result of "foul play."

A Maine State Police spokesman said the investigation remains active, though DiPietro's location remains unclear. His last known address was given to be in California, and Reynolds hopes the lawsuit will draw attention to the case once again and help locate him.

The two-count lawsuit accuses DiPietro of causing Ayla's death through "intentional wrongful actions” and for subjecting the girl to “pre-death pain, fright, terror and physical injuries," though it does not offer up a version of the events that unfolded that fateful night.

While the lawsuit will also be seeking monetary compensation from DiPietro for the death, her attorney said Reynolds was aware the father probably had no money to provide and that this was about "trying to find out how Ayla was killed, why Ayla was killed, and where Ayla was killed."

The mother stated she would not stop until she uncovered 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. I’ll live inside a courtroom until the day I get my justice for her."