Justin DiPietro is seen at the Portland Police station after he pleaded guilty to violating conditions of his release in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in this BDN file photo.

Nearly five months after the mother of long-missing toddler Ayla Reynolds announced a wrongful death lawsuit against the girl’s father, Justin DiPietro’s attorney reportedly said he plans to file a response in the court this week.

DiPietro, Ayla’s father, had custody of the 20-month-old the night of Dec. 17, 2011, when the girl went missing. The case garnered headlines around the world and became the Maine State Police’s largest criminal investigation ever.

In 2012, police said they believed Ayla was dead and that DiPietro — as well as the others who were in the home the night she disappeared — were not being fully truthful with investigators about what happened.

[Judge gives mother of Ayla Reynolds more time to find the girl’s father]

The girl was legally declared dead by the court in 2017, and Trista Reynolds, her mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against DiPietro in December. Reynolds held a news conference to publicize the suit and seek the public’s help finding DiPietro, who she said needed to be served with court documents in order for her case to avoid dismissal.

DiPietro’s last known residence had been in California.

That was nearly five months — and at least one deadline extension — ago.

On Wednesday, attorney Michael Waxman, representing DiPietro, told the Morning Sentinel he plans to file a response on behalf of his client soon.

“He had nothing to do with her disappearance or death,” Waxman told the newspaper. “He’s given many hours of statements to police. He did cooperate. His story has been consistent throughout. He had nothing to do with her disappearance. He, obviously, struggles with this every single day, as every parent of a child that has been harmed or disappears would naturally feel.”

The court allowed Reynolds’ attorney, William Childs, to serve DiPietro the summons and complaint through publication in the Morning Sentinel and a Los Angeles newspaper in April, giving DiPietro, giving him nearly six weeks to file a response.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.