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Ayla Reynolds' Mother Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Missing Toddler's Father

Willis Ryder Arnold
Maine Public
Trista Reynolds, right, holds a photo of Ayla Reynolds' father, Justin DiPietro, at a Portland news conference Monday. Looking on is attorney William Childs, left, and Trista Reynolds' step-father, Jeff Hanson.

There is a new development in the missing toddler case that caused the largest and most costly police investigation in Maine's history.

Credit Trista Reynolds / via The Associated Press
via The Associated Press
This undated file photo provided by Trista Reynolds shows Ayla Reynolds, her daughter, who went missing in December 2011 from her father's home in Waterville, Maine.

The mother of Ayla Reynolds, the toddler who disappeared seven years ago, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit that she hopes will uncover more information in the case.

Trista Reynolds says that she still wants answers to many questions about the night her daughter went missing. "For seven years I've asked myself who would want to hurt an innocent little girl that was filled with so much spunk?"

Reynolds told reporters outside Superior Court in Portland that she believes Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro, knows what happened the night he reported Ayla missing. The toddler had been staying at her grandmother's home in Waterville while in DiPietro's care.  Her body has never been found.

And no criminal charges have been filed in the case.  On Reynolds' behalf, Attorney William Childs has filed a civil suit against DiPietro, alleging that DiPietro is responsible for the girl's death.

Credit Clarke Canfield / Associated Press/file
Associated Press/file
In a Sept. 17, 2013 file photo, Trista Reynolds holds a photo of her daughter, Ayla Reynolds, during an interview with the Associated Press in Westbrook, Maine.

Childs says the primary goal of the suit is to compel depositions from DiPietro and others that they suspect know more than they have let on. "Justice will be finding out where Ayla was killed, how she was killed, and why she was killed," he said. That will be justice in this case."

Childs said that his client would also like to find Ayla's remains but that she realizes that might not be possible.

Reynolds used the news media gathered outside the court to deliver a message to DiPietro. "Justin I promise you wherever you are, one day you will have to face me and tell me the truth about what really happened to Ayla that night," she said. "You can't hide from this forever. Eventually it will eat at you and I know I will get justice for Ayla. And I won't stop fighting for justice.  I will live inside a courtroom until I get justice for her."

Because its a civil case, Reynolds' suit will be weighed by a "preponderance of evidence," rather than the higher standard of “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases.

Originally published Dec. 17, 2018 at 12:14 p.m. ET.