Ayla Reynold’s – Missing Since 12/17/2011

Published 8/6/2012 → While police investigating Maine toddler Ayla Reynolds‘ disappearance have declined to say publicly whether items found in the Kennebec River are case-related, the maternal family said Friday they believe the first set of items found April 25 in the sluiceway near the Hathaway Creative Center did belong to Ayla. Previously Ayla‘s mother, Trista Reynolds, told the Kennebec Journal investigators told her the second set of items found May 8 were not Ayla‘s. Police have declined to comment on the river finds other than saying they’ve been sent to the crime lab for forensics tests.

If items belonging to Ayla were found in the river even after the passage of months, forensic testing could link them to the toddler. Ayla’s stepfather, Jeff Hanson believes that’s just what has happened. He wrote on the United 4 Ayla blog Friday and confirmed by email, “Every other week [Maine State Police] has told Trista that they would show her photos of the items found in the damn (sic) for her to identify. And that has not happened to date.”

He said repeat searches in the same general area and the investigators’ lack of follow-up with Trista suggest the items contained Ayla’s DNA.

According to Hanson, investigators told Trista shortly before an official press conference May 31 they concluded Ayla was likely dead based in part on the items found in the dam and the amount of Ayla’s blood in her father’s home. Some of that blood was detected with luminol and some was visible with the naked eye, CNN reported earlier in the investigation.

When police announced Ayla’s presumed death, they declined to reveal specific evidence, instead citing generalities including investigating more than 1,100 leads.

During a river search some two weeks ago, a police boat carrying a water cadaver dog capable of detecting a submerged body canvassed the waters, according to the Morning Sentinel. Police explained the presence at the scene of an assistant medical examiner, saying he was there primarily in his role as a dog handler.

Here’s what investigators are up against when it comes to DNA preservation in evidence immersed in water or cleaned up with bleach:

* An explanation of DNA collection and preservation techniques for law enforcement, published in the National Institute of Justice Journal in 2003, noted DNA evidence at a crime scene can be degraded by exposure to water, bacteria, heat, light, moisture or mold.

* When it comes to human remains found in water, some DNA is preserved in most cases, Cheryl M. Lowe wrote for Livestrong. She explained investigators typically would not rely solely on any DNA preserved but would supplement the find with corroborating evidence like dental records or anthropological studies.

* DNA preservation in human remains found in water is more likely when the water has a high mineral content (calcium, magnesium, carbonates, sulfides and sulfates), Lowe said.

* An anaerobic environment fosters DNA preservation by limiting oxidation and the growth of bacteria and funguses.

* Neutral pH and low oxygen tension also help preserve DNA in water.

* When it comes to articles containing blood, Explore Forensics said blood can survive 10 washings and even chlorine bleaching. Chlorine bleach can remove all visible traces of blood, yet the blood will still be detectable with luminol or phenolphthalein.

* Thorough washing of blood-stained articles in oxygen bleach destroys blood evidence. Oxygen bleach typically fails to fully remove blood stains but destroys hemoglobin which is what luminol and phenolphthalein detect, Explore Forensics said. Forensics teams can still sometimes find undestroyed evidence in article seams.

SOURCE – http://news.yahoo.com/family-believes-ayla-reynolds-dna-found-river-search-194800477.html

Ayla was 20 months old when she was reported missing on 12/17/2011 from her Waterville, Maine home. Ayla was last seen sleeping in her bed at about 10 PM Friday night.  Her father, Justin Dipietro, reported her missing Saturday morning when he said he found an empty bed. Waterville police believe that it is possible that Ayla Reynolds let herself out of the house and simply walked away. Or the child was abducted.