WATERVILLE, Maine — Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said Monday investigators have ruled out the possibility that missing 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds wandered away from her home and are focusing on identifying who took her.
Meanwhile, a group of local business owners announced Monday they are offering a $30,000 reward for information that leads to finding Ayla.
“We are confident that Ayla did not walk out of the house by herself,” said Massey during a Monday afternoon press conference in Waterville. “We believe that someone was involved in taking her out of the house and that’s where the focus of this investigation has turned.”
Massey would not answer questions from reporters about who might be responsible for the toddler’s disappearance.
“I don’t want to speculate too much on that,” he said. “The circumstances surround that, we’re not sure of. We don’t know what happened.”
Monday was the first time that Massey or anyone else involved in the investigation has publicly ruled out any of several scenarios that could explain Ayla’s disappearance.
“Like most missing persons cases, it concerns us more as time goes on,” said Massey. “That’s always concerning, particularly when it involves the most vulnerable members of our population, the children.”
Area businesses and individuals, led by Waterville-area attorney John Nale, contributed to a $30,000 reward fund to be used for any information that might lead investigators to the missing girl.
Nale presented the reward money to police during the press conference Monday afternoon.
“I ask and plead that the person or persons who have young Ayla Reynolds, that they please keep her safe and return her safely to us,” said Nale, who encouraged anyone with information to call the Waterville Police Department.
Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said to his knowledge this reward is the largest one of its kind in the state in the history of such cases.
Ayla Reynolds was reported missing by her father, who said the last time he saw his daughter was when he put her to bed. He reported her missing the next morning.
The Waterville Police Department’s telephone number is 680-4700.