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(NECN: Amy Sinclair) – The search for the missing toddler from Maine narrowed this week as police ruled out abduction and set their sights on the people who were in the house the night Ayla Reynolds disappeared.
Veteran homicide investigator and retired deputy Portland Police Chief Joe Loughlin talked about where the case that's gripped New England will go from here.
When 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds was first reported missing by her father Justin DiPietro, police weren't sure what they were dealing with.
Retired Portland police detective Joe Loughlin likens the early stages of a missing person’s case to a giant jigsaw puzzle.
"Initially, you don't know what you have,” said Loughlin. “Is there a missing child? Is there a child in danger?"
Police searched the neighborhood, rivers and even dumpsters.
And inside the Violette Street Home, detectives collected hundreds of pieces of evidence that might lead to a conclusion of abduction or some other sort of foul play.
DiPietro said he put Ayla to bed December 16, and the next morning she was gone.
"If there was something I knew, I would share it but I can't speculate," DiPietro has said.
But this week, state police ruled out abduction saying the focus now is on the three adults in home. Those are DiPietro, his girlfriend Courtney Roberts and his sister Elisha.
"We don't think we've gotten the full story from those three about what happened," said state police spokesperson Steve McCausland yesterday.
“They're strategically releasing that information because it's going to ratchet up psychological component of people who were in the house that night because someone knows something,” said Loughlin. “No doubt about it."
Loughlin said it’s likely state police have established probable cause and now it's a matter of getting to the truth through interviews with three adults and other two children who were in the home that night.
"They'll separate everybody and get statements to put together what makes sense and doesn't make sense," said Loughlin, who ultimately thinks they will solve the case because state police know when and where Ayla was last seen and who was in the house with her.
The final piece of this jigsaw puzzle, he said, is getting them to explain what happened to Ayla Reynolds.