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Phoebe’s Alibi

According to transcripts on CNN.com, Phoebe told a reporter that “police have known exactly where she was [the night before the 911 call and possibly the morning of as well] since the start of the investigation.” If that is the case, then why did she think that she could get away with lying to a reporter which would air a video seen across the country?

Why was Phoebe gone during such a crucial time period?

One answer that comes to my head almost instantly is plausible deniability. Phoebe can answer some of the tough questions honestly because she truly will have no idea exactly what happened. In this sense, she can be untruthful without it sending off flares.

The question that all this begs answered is whether it was her original intention to disclose her alibi to police, or if they found out about it and she had no choice but to tell them. From the sounds of her interview, it certainly seems as though she really didn’t want people finding out about her alibi so that she could continue to defend family members with statements like: “I heard nothing. There was no party. It was a normal evening.”

If Phoebe was trying to protect the people present in the house by fibbing to reporters during her first interview, then someone was trying to protect Phoebe (or protect themselves indirectly) by making sure she wasn’t at the house that night. This would apply whether or not Phoebe was “in” on it or not.

Phoebe’s Alibi Theory 1

Something happens to Ayla prior to the 16th. I’m not going to speculate as to what. They know that it’s only a matter of time before people will notice that she is gone, and they choose December 17th as the date that they will make their 911 call. Phoebe has been aware of everything that’s gone on, but the decision is made that someone will have to be outside the house that night so that in the event of questions, that person can vouch for the story that is being presented to police. This ended up being Phoebe’s job, because after all, she is the main bread-winner, she is the home owner, and stands to lose more than anyone else. She has to be gone because if she’s in jail, who’s going to support the rest of the family and provide them with shelter?

But it all falls apart the morning of the 17th, because either Phoebe slips up during questioning, or she has a change of heart. Suddenly, her alibi is out.

Phoebe’s Alibi Theory 2

Something happens to Ayla prior to the 16th. I’m not going to speculate as to what. (At least not in this post). Up until that day, whatever has happened to Ayla has been able to be covered up and Phoebe is none the wiser. Her decision to leave might have been prompted by someone in the house, because they know that they’ll need her gone in order to get things cleaned up and in order. They’re also hoping that her absence will bolster their statements. Phoebe is just as surprised as Trista might have been when she gets a phone call that morning. So she rushes back to the house and to her cubs. Mama bear instinct kick in and now she’s on board with the plan, but not necessarily with full disclosure. She protects because that is her instinct. Well that and because she’s worried about being dragged into it somehow herself.

Phoebe had to have been told what was going on, or at least some version of it prior to Justin calling 911. Once investigators arrived, they wouldn’t have allowed the family to go poking through the house as it had turned into a crime scene. Phoebe says that she noticed “some oddities” and that they told police about them. I’m not sure why SHE noticed the oddities, singular, but THEY (her word was actually WE) told police. It sounds like she’s trying to distance herself whatever it was that she/they told police she/they had found inside the house that set off her internal alarm. She is sharing the blame in a sense. Perhaps whatever was found was actually created to look like an oddity, or perhaps the oddities were a result of  a cleanup that she wasn’t privy to.

What’s your Phoebe’s Alibi Theory? Does her alibi and it’s timing, as well as the lie told to the reporter make more sense if:

  • She really doesn’t know anything
  • She’d known in advance, and helped plan
  • She didn’t know in advance, but was told later
  • Something happened prior to the 16th
  • Something happened the night of the 16th

The 911 Calls

The 911 Calls

Trista was allowed to listen to two of the three 911 calls placed on the morning of December 17. She requested this during the very same meeting where she was told that they had found Ayla’s blood and that the amount found was “more than a small cut would produce.” (see A4A for more details)

Answers for Ayla (A4A) also states that Trista believes the calls “sound contrived.” Something about the way he spoke, the words he used, or the tone of his voice, sounded to her like he was performing, trying too hard, or being artificial.

Investigators can garner a great deal of information from 911 calls. They have courses dealing with just this subject. There is even a guide to help them determine guilt by certain call characteristics. (Which by the way is a fabulous examination of the nature of the 911 call!)

According to author Susan Adams and Tracy Harpster in their Law Enforcement Bulletin, “911 Homicide Calls and Statement Analysis: Is The Caller The Killer?” there are certain things to look for in a 911 call coming from a guilty party.

  1. Was the caller just calling to report a crime and not asking for help? (I have a missing child)
  2. Did the caller ramble, speak confusingly, offer too many unrelated details, leave out the main point of the call in lieu of explanations? (I..um… she was taking a nap yesterday… but this morning...and then we played with her stuffed animals, and she was fine then)
  3. Was the caller presenting the victim in an unfavorable manner or even blaming the victim for what befell them? (The little shit probably found a way to get out of her crib)
  4. Did the caller fail to correct any discrepancies in their statement that might have been made in the heat of the moment or accidentally? (It was 8:30am when I first discovered her missing, but no corrections occur when they realize that it had to be 8:00am)
  5. Was the caller focused on themselves, their pain, their plight, how they felt but not so much the victim? (What am I going to do? This is the worst possible thing that could have happened to me!)
  6. Did the caller request help for themselves? (Please help ME!)
  7. Did the caller declare the victim dead with no protest or affirmation? (I’m sure she’s dead, I know she’s long gone by now)
  8. Was the caller’s voice mostly even throughout the call? (No variance in speed, pitch, volume)
  9. Was there a lack or urgency in the call, or was the call answered with a greeting? (Um, hello there…My name is Justin)
  10. Did the caller fail to cooperate with the operator, either by not following directions or providing misleading answers, or answers that avoid a direct answer? (hanging up when told to stay on the line, answering “Sir, when was the last time you saw your daughter?” with: “I checked the shed just before I called you.”)

Perhaps if Trista were to read these questions, she could shed more light on the contrived parts of the calls. January was several months ago, but she might remember enough to be able to answer at least a few of them.

The only question that can be definitively answered from Trista’s account of the call is that Justin failed to cooperate with the operator. Not just once, but twice. On two occasions he disconnected the call.

If this was accidental, or the result of something that is easily explained, perhaps someone speaking for Justin could get this out there so the wrong assumption isn’t drawn.

Let’s look at another 911 call involving a missing toddler. The one placed by Cindy Anthony when she finally received confirmation from Casey that Caylee was “missing.”

  • Red = failed test
  • Green = passed test
  • Orange = could be interpreted either way
  • Black = not applicable

Cindy’s Portion of the Call

  1. Cindy begins by reporting that her granddaughter was missing, but immediately asks for someone to come help.
  2. Yes, there was a bit of excited rambling, but Cindy did make sure to relay the points that needed to be made
  3. No, Cindy expressed a great deal of positive emotion for Caylee
  4. There was a discrepancy in the date she said she’d last seen Caylee but she clarified this after she’d had time to calm down (not during this call though).
  5. Cindy’s main focus was on finding Caylee, not herself or anyone else.
  6. Cindy asked for help, but followed this up by statement after statement about how young Caylee was, how she needed help to find her.
  7. n/a
  8. Cindy’s voice changed drastically from moment to moment. No modulation.
  9. The call was very urgent.
  10. Cindy cooperated with the operator

Casey’s Portion of the Call

  1. Casey did not ask for help, she just stated the nature of the crime
  2. She did offer details unrelated to the questions of the operator. (Question: And you know who has her? Answer: …I actually spoke with my daughter for a moment, for a minute today)
  3. Casey did not portray Caylee in a negative manner
  4. Casey did not correct any discrepancies
  5. Casey discussed at length all the effort she had put into finding Caylee (she has been searching, she has been calling, she, she, she)
  6. Casey never asked for help at all, let alone for help finding Caylee
  7. Even though it is clear now that Caylee was already dead, Casey wasn’t reporting a death, so this doesn’t apply
  8. Yes, Casey’s voice was extremely, uncannily even considering the circumstances
  9. There was absolutely no urgency whatsoever
  10. Casey cooperated, but did add a lot of extra information in her answers.
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Phoebe’s Fib

Phoebe’s Fib

In a video interview with CNN’s Susan Candiotti posted to the NECN.com website on January 8, 2012, Phoebe DiPietro gives an account of the events leading up to the 911 call reporting Ayla’s disappearance.

Later that day, CNN posted a clarification to the original video report. It said:

DiPietro now tells CNN she was not among the adults at the home from which Ayla disappeared that night but instead was at another location that she wouldn’t publicly disclose.

Phoebe knew from her very first utterance that she was lying to the reporter. I’m not sure what the justification for this would be. Was she hoping that she’d never have to clarify? Is it possible that she had originally told police the same thing but had to recant on her initial statement because they found out otherwise, and then had to clarify with CNN as a result?

It sure would be a perfect world where Phoebe, Elisha, Justin, Courtney, and even Lance would come out and tell their version of events directly and not through a conduit (e.g. Heidi Tudela). There is a lot to be said for clarification. If they had some logical explanations for a few of the thing that are causing the public unrest, they could potentially come out smelling like roses.

If Phoebe would explain to all interested what prompted the lie during her CNN interview, it would make us all feel better. Well, maybe not exactly. But at least we’d have some insight into the lie itself.

There was a single, shining moment during the interview where she almost seemed as if she was going to come clean. It was when she hesitated when asked the question about it being a normal night. “Pretty much, um ya, I really have to avoid that question” was her response. Interestingly enough, each direct question she outright lied during her answer were put to her as a yes or no. It’s a lot easier to lie with a single syllable than a complete sentence. When she feels pressured into coming up with a multi-part answer, she finds herself in a situation where she might have to explain more than she is willing to. This is when she falls back on” law enforcement instructions” to keep her out of the doghouse. But it didn’t work, because she had already lied several times earlier. The difference being, she wasn’t as comfortable lying in sentence form as she was with her string of no’s.

Her lie seems to be of the same species as Cindy Anthony’s lies during Casey’s trial. Cindy fibbed, misled, and lied by omission (or playing the loss of memory card) on several occasions during the trial. It was all done to protect her daughter, Casey. She  had already lost her granddaughter, was she supposed to send her only daughter to her death as well? Are you seeing a similarity?

Phoebe owns the house Ayla was in. She was conveniently gone the night Ayla goes missing. She lies to direct questions being posed to her by the press. She is protecting Justin, or possibly Elisha. Maybe even Lance. Or all three, who knows. But she IS protecting someone.

Because she knows.

And her knee-jerk reaction was to provide an alibi. Maybe not one the cops would have gone for, but this lie-libi was designed to alter public opinion, at least temporarily.


Susan: In her first television interview. the missing child’s grandmother, Phoebe DiPietro says she’s living a nightmare.

Phoebe: You’re waiting for a phone call, hoping the police have your granddaughter.

Susan: But so far that phone call hasn’t come; not a single word about what happened to Ayla Reynolds. The toddler, who now would be 21-months-old, shown in this video that was shot last fall, disappeared in the middle of the night, a week before Christmas.

Phoebe: She’s quiet, very sweet. Her eyes, she’s got the bluest eyes, the longest eyelashes.

Susan: DiPietro says Ayla’s father, Justin, put her to bed around 8 o’clock. The next day, before 9:00am, he called police to report her gone.

Susan: There’s no accident that could have happened that night?

Phoebe: No

Susan: Among anyone here?

Phoebe: No

Susan: You, Justin

Phoebe: No. No.

Susan: The other people that were here?

Phoebe: No. No.

Susan: Something covered up?

PhoebeNo. No.

Susan: What other adults were there, exactly what happened that night, or whether anyone checked on Ayla, police won’t say, nor will DiPietro. She said investigators warned her against jeopardizing the case.

Phoebe: I can tell you there was not a party here at the house.

Susan: People had dinner? Watched television? Eventually went to bed?

Phoebe: (Nods affirmatively) Pretty much, um ya, I really have to avoid that question.

Susan: You didn’t hear any noise?

Phoebe: I did not hear a thing (maybe anything).

Susan: When you found out that she wasn’t here, what did you think?

Phoebe: I thought that I did not want my son to go get any of his friends and go kicking in doors looking for her.

Susan: I take it you don’t think some stranger walked in off the street and did this.

Phoebe: (Shakes head negatively and sighs) It is a very creepy feeling to think that somebody had been casing your house. That they had been watching the families activities.

Susan: After Ayla vanished, her grandmother told detectives, some things around the house didn’t look the same.

Phoebe: Some oddities that I had noticed and we told law enforcement what those were.

Susan: She would not reveal them to us. Without a search warrant, Ayla’s grandmother allowed police to turn her house upside down for about two weeks because she says she has nothing to hide.

Phoebe: I would give everything I own to have her back

Susan: Ayla’s parents never married and live apart. The child’s mother, who spent time in rehab, her family says, questions whether Justin mistreated Ayla. Suspicious about a soft-cast she had on her left arm teh night she went missing. Justin’s mother says she was home when her son tripped while carrying Ayla into the house. In other words: an accident.

Phoebe: Justin is a great dad. He truly, truly is and I know he loves Ayla.

Susan: This sparkling red dress and books are among Ayla’s Christmas gifts never wrapped.

Phoebe: I have to believe she’s okay

Susan: Do you have anything to say for whoever took Ayla?

Phoebe: Please bring her back, please. Bring her back.

Susan: So she can see her dancing, again.


Lie Detector Tests

Lie Detector Tests

Justin DiPietro

It’s unclear the exact date that Justin took his lie detector test, but it can be gleaned from news reports that it was shortly after Ayla’s reported disappearance, but no longer than a month. Justin says that he asked for a polygraph the very first day of the investigation. However, he has two slightly different versions of how the test panned out for him. The first is that he passed it. The second that he is uncertain how he did as investigators would not allow him to see the results.

“I went in there and I smoked it.” – I smoked it, loosely translated: I aced it. I beat it.

“They can tell me whatever they want. Again, I didn’t see the results” – In this article, Justin goes back on his earlier statement that he “smoked” his exam, now saying that he doesn’t know what the results were because the police never physically showed them to him.

Both statements can be viewed here.

MSP Spokesman, McCausland, challenges both of Justin’s statements, saying first that “he knows how he did because we told him,” secondly that “polygraph results would be difficult to read without training.” (article here)

Food for thought: For whatever reason, the MSP isn’t telling the public what the results of Justin’s polygraph are. Most likely it’s because this type of evidence isn’t admissible in court, so the results don’t influence anything beyond perceptions. The concern is that McCausland has been adamant that Justin was in fact given his results and that any statement to the contrary is a lie. This is a situation where one must read between the lines. Justin is confident that he “smoked it.” However, Justin also says that because he didn’t get to see the read-out, regardless of what he was told, it could all be a fabrication designed to cast doubt on his statements and put him in a bad light publicly. He’s up against “the man,” so to speak.

Trista Reynolds

Trista took a lie detector test on January 18, 2012. Her test was unable to be completed because of an underlying medical condition. When she offered to seek treatment for the condition and retake the test, police indicated to her that they were content with the results.

Becca Reynolds – Ayla Reynolds’ maternal grandmother (Trista’s mother)

Becca’s January 27 lie detector test was unable to be completed because of medications that she was on at the time of the test which include  “muscle relaxers, pain-killers, depression medication and an antibiotic.” Even after offering to retake the exam after suspending her medications, Becca said that the police found it unnecessary.

Food for thought, Trista and Becca’s Polygraphs: MSP haven’t challenged any news report where Trista or Becca say that even though theirs weren’t completely successful exams that police are satisfied, says a lot. If what they were saying didn’t hold some truth, it’s likely that McCausland would have called them out like he did Justin. So in this case, it’s safe to assume that both Becca and Trista were able to get through the crucial questions of the exam before they had to stop. This would probably have included questions that dealt with whether they harmed Ayla in any way or know about her current whereabouts.

Ronnie Reynolds – Ayla’s maternal uncle

Ronnie passed his polygraph exam, according to a January 28 Morning Sentinel article.

Missing Polygraphs

As of right now, there have been no news reports indicating that anyone else has been polygraphed. This includes other members of the DiPietro household (Phoebe, Elisha, Lance), other members of the Reynold’s family (Jessica, Trista’s father, Ron), or Justin’s girlfriend, Courtney Roberts.

It’s too bad in a way that the children present in the home during the month of December weren’t older because they might be able to shed light where the adults are keeping the switches off.

More On Polygraphs

In Maine, polygraph exams can only be used to help guide an investigation. They are not admissible in court, and for a variety of reasons.

I guess to put it simply, an example would help shed light on how they can produce skewed results.

Let’s assume absolute innocence on both the parts of Justin and Trista. Neither of them had anything to do with Ayla’s disappearance in any way, shape, or form. Ayla was taken by a complete stranger in the dead of the night and left no traces. Justin and Trista are both baffled, but…

Deep in the back of their minds, and ugly thought begins to take form.

What if Ayla is dead?

When they are asked if Ayla is dead, what happens when this uncertainty pops up? For a split second, thoughts of her being far from alive flit into their heads, just long enough to induce a physiological response detectable by the polygraph machine.

I’m not saying this is the case, I’m using an example to help show how easily results can be affected by thought processes and the wording and/or timing of certain questions.

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The Puzzle Pieces – Things

Puzzle Piece – Things

Things is a broad term. In the case of Ayla Reynolds’ disappearance, we could include evidence the MSP has released, things people have said on one of the many social media sites, or even psychic readings. Because this page could potentially become monstrous, as each new puzzle piece “thing” is discussed, we’ll create a unique page for it.


  • Lie Detector Tests
  • Blood Evidence
  • Alibis
  • Life Insurance Policy
  • Public Opinion
  • Broken Arm
  • Phoebe’s Fib
  • The 911 Calls

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Blood Evidence

Blood Evidence

This is probably the most controversial piece of evidence that the public has knowledge of. Blood is irrefutable evidence of an injury of some sort.

There are at least four different versions of what the blood evidence shows, each coming from a different side of the Ayla Reynolds polygon.

Maine State Police

MSP Spokesman, Stephen McCausland, confirms that some of the blood samples taken from the 29 Violette Avenue home do come from Ayla Reynolds.  He also released information about the methods used to discover Ayla’s blood, some of it being visible to the naked eye, some of it only detectable using a chemical called Luminol.

Jeff Hanson

On the Reynolds’ family website, www.answersforayla.com, Jeff Hanson (Trista Reynolds’ step-father), alleges that the Reynolds’ family was told by police before the January 28 vigil that the amount of blood was “more than a small cut would produce.” However after the vigil that same day, a lead investigator took that one step farther, declaring that the amount exceeded a cupful.

Justin DiPietro

Justin’s statement on the amount of blood found was that while he was indeed shown the evidence, he was unsure of the amount.

Heidi Tudela

On a now closed Facebook page called “Help Find Ayla,” Heidi Tudela made the comment that she had seen the blood and that it was three tiny, pen-tip sized dots.

You Say Potato, I Say Potatoe

As you can see from the graphic above, there is a big difference between a few small spots and more than a cupful. There is also a big difference in the way our minds picture more than a small cut and more than a cupful. Another difference is the perceptions of people about cut size.

If I get a swatch for interior paint and the color lies on the spectrum between, say, blue and green. Then I show the swatch to ten different people and ask them to name the color, I’m bound to get varying responses. One person might say teal, another might say aqua. Another might say turquoise. And yet another might get less specific and name the parent color it’s most closely related to – Blue, or Green. It’s entirely possible that people’s impressions of cut sizes might yield the same results.

My definition of a small cut is more along the paper-cut line. Someone else might presume a small cut to be a sliced-open finger while doing the dishes. Both would produce hugely different amounts of blood. Similarly, a small cut on the elbow would produce a different amount of blood than a small cut on a highly vascular body part like the scalp.

More than a cupful gives a very graphic image of an amount of blood. We can all relate to what that might look like. Anyone who has accidentally tipped over a coffee mug or a soda can can attest that the liquid spreads far and wide.

Why The Difference Before and After the Vigil?

My best guess is that police were hoping Trista would confront Justin about the blood found in his home and that he in turn would come up with an explanation. His answer to this question would be crucial, because Trista would obviously repeat it back to investigators. There has been a lot of scrutiny about what he whispered to her when they hugged that day. Some believe he said “it’s no big deal,” others believe he said, “don’t worry about it.” Neither of these assumptions have been confirmed or denied by the Reynolds family. Depending on how he answered (it’s presumable that he didn’t give a clear explanation), it could have been used against him, or at the very least give the police an excuse to publicly prove him wrong. If he had said, “she stubbed her toe,” Police could say, “Um, that would have to be the worst stub in the history of mankind.” Or if he’d said, “Ayla stepped on a piece of glass,” it might have opened up more questions that would be used to disprove his accounting of events, and then even more questions. “How big was the piece of glass?” If he answered, “a sliver,” it would back him into a corner per se.

Regardless, he didn’t appear to say anything of value pertaining to the blood found in his home.

Maybe this is why investigators upped the ante during the second conversation with Trista that day. If “more than a small cut would produce,” didn’t light a fire under her, then “more than a cupful,” certainly would have. There is a vast difference between the two, and the latter would have invoked a feeling of dread that maybe they hoped would fuel a resolve to push the answers out of the only person that can seemingly give them: Justin.

Another Visual

Using a cup of water (I know that it’s thinner than blood), and a hard surface, I tried to get an idea of what it would look like if it was poured in one spot and allowed to spread.

One Cupful of Water on a Hard Surface

What you see here doesn’t give a true representation of the amount of spread that occurred. The rivulets on the bottom extended another ten inches and the ones to the left another foot. That’s a big stain. Perhaps had this been slightly more viscous, it would have spread slower and not as far.

Blood Volume in a Toddler

Ayla’s weight is listed as approximately 30lbs. She was almost two years old when last seen. According to the University of Michigan’s Medical School, this means that Ayla’s total blood volume was likely around 80ml per kg of her weight.

Now let’s do some calculations.

30 pounds = 13.6kg

80ml x 13.6kg = 1088ml

1 cup = 236.5ml

236.5ml out of the 1088 in Ayla’s body was found in Justin DiPietro’s basement (according to Jeff Hanson)

236.5/1088= 21.7% of her total blood volume.

21.7% is slightly over 1/5

The National Institute of Health defines Hypovolemic Shock as occurring once a person has lost 1/5 of their total blood volume.

  • Hypovolemic Shock is always a medical emergency.
  • Symptoms include loss of consciousness, confusion, pallor, rapid breathing.
  • Complications can include brain damage, heart attack, and even death.
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