Imagining Ayla Reynolds–If Only

Hey all. Gerry Boyle here. And I had an entirely different post planned for today (good news on the book front) until I read Amy Calder’s story in the Waterville Morning Sentinel marking the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of Maine toddler Ayla Reynolds. After reading that, my story of books and book deals just didn’t seem so important.images

Calder, my friend and former colleague, walks us through each chapter of this horror story, from the little girl’s reported abduction from her father’s home in Waterville, to the heartfelt public vigils, to the flat and unprecedented pronouncement from investigators urlthat the three adults in the house who last saw the child are lying.

The good news will hold until next time.

This is the case that pitted the child’s father, Justin DiPietro, against her mother Trista Reynolds, who was away at drug rehab when Ayla Reynolds disappeared. Police, who found the child’s blood in the home, say she’s probably dead. They’re still working the case hard. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, police involved in one of the biggest investigations in Maine history will never, ever give up.

It’s a sad story to bring up on the eve of Christmas but sadder still to ignore it. And I wish I could provide a different ending to this sad, sad tale. If only this were fiction.Birthday+Vigil+-+Ayla+Reynolds

If it were I’d have written a very different outcome, one that would spare readers of this unspeakable bit of reality. Stories like this are why I don’t write true crime; in real life, there isn’t always justice.

In my story, the child would have been sold for $30,000 cash to a couple of from away, as they say in Maine. Whisked away in her Daddy’s Princess pajamas, she would be taken to a comfortable home in the suburbs of Des Moines. Or Chicago. Or Phoenix. Her parents would tell themselves they’d rescued the little girl from a life that held little promise. They’d shower her with affection. She would have piles of presents under her Christmas tree.

And maybe somebody in on the secret would squeeze them for more money. Threaten to expose the illegal transaction. And he or she would get caught. Or turn up dead. The subsequent investigation would lead to the arrest of the murderer and the child’s recovery.

Or maybe the three adults in the house had sworn an oath of secrecy. The child’s death was an accident. Negligence or horse play. The trio made a pact to keep one of them out of jail. But it’s hard living a lie and after a couple of years, the solidarity begins to unravel. It starts with an argument over–what else?–money. A threat to go to the cops and tell the whole story. A warning in response. Then one of the adults turns up dead.

And then there were two, one with a dark secret, the other with a dark fear.

The imagination can come up with any number of plots that are more acceptable than the reality of this case. That the child is gone and can’t be found. That all the king’s horses and all the king’s men–and women–haven’t been able to put Ayla Reynolds back together again. That nobody has been held responsible, yet. That all of this happened in our midst.

So I hope there’s a break in this case. That it’s a dream come true for the cops who have been eating and sleeping this one, for those members of Ayla’s family who deserve it, and for the people who think that justice should be served. Which is pretty much all of us.


In the meantime, all of this has me thinking of a character for a new book.  A person with no conscience. A sociopath.  A person who is able to live with a lie, the most heinous secret imaginable.

But for how long?

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8 Responses to Imagining Ayla Reynolds–If Only

  1. Gram says:

    Let us never forget. And never give up hoping for a resolution. It is sometimes the “not knowing: that is hardest.

  2. Kate Flora says:

    Gerry, I think we all imagine this case. I, too, as I expect is true of the case investigators, am waiting for a break among that lying cabal of three. In a darkly violent, rural, and community centered plot, by now someone would have taken on of that trio out into a dark and deserted barn and finally gotten some answers. Not according to the civilized rules, true, but neither is killing a child, disposing of the body, and then lying about what happened.

    We can at least hope they are tormented by horrible dreams. Wish they were all shunned. And that social services takes the rest of those children before the same thing happens again.

    It’s so hard to imagine two young mothers so indifferent to the fate of another child, isn’t it.

  3. My fantasy was that relatives in Canada had her. I don’t know if the family actually has relatives in Canada, but it’s believable that they might. That’s my fantasy. I don’t think I am right, but I wish.

  4. Barb Ross says:

    I’d read that book. The one where Ayla grows up happy in the sun in Phoenix with a couple who have done something wrong, but who tell themselves they did the right thing.

    Reality is so much grimmer, and realer. And except for the murder itself, so much more common.

  5. Kate Lyons says:

    The proposed – and preferred! – storyline with the living toddler brings to mind Dennis Lehane’s excellent _Gone Baby Gone_ , which is recommended, though dark as you would expect. (I have not seen the movie of the same name, based on the book, though reviews indicate it is good.)

    Meanwhile, I need to report that Amy Calder’s name links only to the weekend update blog entry here, instead of to the article referenced.

  6. Cynthia Blain says:

    The secret will come out one day. Until then, how anyone can live with the guilt of this supposedly horrible crime is more than I can even begin to fathom. Not having a conscience must be a requirement for this kind of behavior.

  7. Pingback: Praying for Heavenly Peace | Maine Crime Writers

  8. Thank you and Amy for helping to keep Ayla’s story told. She deserves answers and justice.

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