Justin DiPietro is followed through the lobby of the Portland police station in this BDN file photo.

PORTLAND, Maine — There was a move forward Thursday in the wrongful death lawsuit of Ayla Reynolds.

Thursday, the missing girl’s father filed his response to the suit in court.

It’s been more than seven years since the disappearance of Ayla Reynolds in Waterville. Thursday, the father of that child filed his response to a complaint by the mother at the Cumberland County Courthouse. According to his attorney, he has never forgotten his daughter.

Ayla Reynolds was just 20-months-old when she disappeared.

She was in the custody of her father, Justin DiPietro, who said in 2011 she must have wandered away or been abducted.

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.

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.

[Father of Ayla Reynolds responds to wrongful death lawsuit]

His lawyer Michael Waxman says DiPietro is still upset about what happened.

“Every single day he thinks about this,” Waxman said. “Every single day upon waking, and it’s probably the last thought he has before falling asleep. He desperately frustrated as well.”

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges DiPietro didn’t do all he could to help Ayla when she broke her arm in his custody.

His lawyer says that’s not true.

“He wouldn’t have allowed his daughter to continue to be in pain,” Waxman said. “He brought her as soon as he realized he needed to, the next day.”

Police reports state Ayla’s blood was found in multiple places in DiPietro’s Waterville home, including her bedroom and DiPietro’s bedroom.

His lawyer says that blood is from when Ayla was sick.

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“Apparently, it’s not uncommon that if a child, or a person, is vomiting repeatedly, for some blood to be in the vomit,” Waxman said. “That’s the only explanation I’m aware of.”

He says DiPietro also wants answers for what happened, but says there might not be any.

“The fact that he doesn’t have the answers she seeks, doesn’t mean that he is guilty of causing his child’s death,” Waxman said.