Police blast Boston TV station, WCVB, for ‘irresponsible, inaccurate’ Ayla Reynolds story

Posted Jan. 30, 2012, at 9:46 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 31, 2012, at 6:21 a.m.
Ayla Reynolds
AP photo from Facebook
Ayla Reynolds

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A Maine State Police spokesman reacted angrily Monday to what he called an “unattributed, irresponsible and inaccurate” report on the Ayla Reynolds case that aired on Boston television station WCVB.

Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland, reached late Monday at his home, would not detail everything he found objectionable in the report because he said he didn’t want to repeat inaccurate statements.

“That is why I issued a release,” he said of a press release he emailed to reporters at 8:36 p.m. Monday. “I’ve never spoken those words and I’m not going to repeat them. I’m not going to pick apart something that is unattributed, irresponsible and inaccurate.”

WCVB reporter Michele McPhee is credited with a story that appeared Monday night on the Boston ABC affiliate as well as an article online under the headline “Police Believe Missing Maine Toddler Dead.”

The article attributes “several law enforcement sources” in stating that Justin DiPietro, who is Ayla Reynolds’ father, fled a police interview when confronted with luminol-enhanced photos of his daughter’s blood spatters in the basement of his Waterville home. The WCVB report also claimed those same unnamed law enforcement sources said the blood, which McCausland said Sunday has been confirmed as Ayla’s, had been “cleaned up.” The sentence, “police do not believe Ayla is alive” was unattributed.

McCausland, who has been among the only on-the-record sources of information on the Ayla Reynolds case since the Maine State Police took over the investigation from Waterville Police Department, has consistently refused to answer questions about the investigation that have been posed by the Bangor Daily News and other media organizations.

Asked Sunday by the Bangor Daily News whether investigators believe Ayla Reynolds is alive, he said only that “our first priority is finding Ayla” and would not answer follow-up questions on that subject. McCausland also has been tight-lipped on how much blood was found in the DiPietro home, although Ayla’s mother, Trista Reynolds, has said police told her it was “more blood than a small cut would produce,” whether anyone else’s blood was found, who other than DiPietro, his sister and girlfriend can confirm they saw Ayla alive earlier than Dec. 16, and the results of polygraph tests taken by members on both sides of Ayla’s family. McCausland’s statement over the weekend that the three adults who were in the DiPietro home on the night of Dec. 16 have not told police the whole truth was his strongest statement to date in the investigation, though McCausland maintains that no one has been ruled out as a suspect.

On Saturday, McCausland did confirm a report by WCVB that blood had been found in the basement of the DiPietro home and on Sunday he said it was Ayla’s, but that more testing on a slew of evidence taken from the home is pending. Asked how he was responding to the report other than the press release, McCausland said he was trying to reach McPhee.

A request by the Bangor Daily News Monday night for comment from an assignment editor at WCVB was not granted by press time.

At 10:38 p.m. Monday, the station updated its online story, including changing the headline to “Hope Fades for Missing Maine Toddler.” Other passages in the story were also changed from the original version.

“State Police have said from the beginning of this case that we remain hopeful for Ayla Reynold’s safe return, but grow more concerned as time passes,” wrote McCausland in the press release. “Nothing has changed that belief.”

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