Maine mother missing after police find baby abandoned in car
|DITTMEYER’S CAR in the fitness center parking lot Saturday before it was taken to the Conway Police Department and secured. (Mellisa Ferland photo) (click for larger version)|
April 28, 2011[Note: As we go to press on Wednesday morning, Conway Police have blocked off the snowmaking retention pond at Cranmore Ski Area. A body has been found in the pond and there is no word yet as to whether it is the body of missing mother Krista Dittmeyer.]
NORTH CONWAY — A candlelight vigil will be held tonight, April 28, in Bridgton, Maine at Stevens Brook Elementary School beginning at 8 p.m. as a community holds out hope a missing mother will be found and reunited with her baby.
Krista Dittmeyer, 20, of Portland, Maine was reported missing Saturday, April 23. Conway Police received a report at 6:30 a.m. that there was a car in the parking lot at Cranmore Mountain Resort with its hazard lights flashing, engine running and door ajar. This was odd enough until police found 14-month-old Aliyah strapped in her car seat in the back seat of the Nissan Sentra and no adults around and that's when it escalated into a potential crime scene. Dittmeyer's daughter was taken to Memorial Hospital and reported in good condition and released to family members in Maine. Police would not identify the person who reported the abandoned car. Though the ski area is closed for the season, there is a large fitness center on site that opens at 7 a.m. on Saturdays.
Meanwhile, police spent the day Saturday combing the Cranmore property looking for Dittmeyer and searching the vehicle from which they seized evidence. At 1 p.m. the vehicle was still running with the hazards flashing as an unusual late April snowstorm dumped a couple of inches of snow on the scene. Later, the vehicle was taken to Conway Police Department and secured. Search warrants were obtained for that vehicle, a separate vehicle that was seized in North Conway Village, and Dittmeyer's cell phone records.
Her family wasted no time getting the word out about her disappearance, making it very clear that Dittmeyer is a loving and devoted mother that would never leave her baby girl in the car alone. They used the power of the internet and within 48 hours, the story had been featured on every major print and television media outlet possible including local papers, The Boston Globe, the three major television networks including Good Morning America on ABC, as well as the Nancy Grace program on CNN.
Dittmeyer lives in Portland, Maine and works as a waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings in Portland and the last contact with family members was around 8 p.m. on Friday, April 22. Conway Police Lt. Chris Perley told Nancy Grace that Dittmeyer lives with roommates in Portland, that they have been questioned and know what time she left the house. He also said there was no sign of forced entry at that home or evidence of anything disturbed there.
At a press conference at Conway Police Station, Perley said 'There are a number of crimes that could be involved in the disappearance of an adult. Kidnapping of course could be one of them. We are keeping our minds open to any eventuality in the investigation and we are going to follow the evidence wherever it leads us."
Aerial photography of the spot where Dittmeyer's car was found and surrounding area was taken. A small water retention pond at Cranmore was drained so police could check for any evidence. NH and Game officers including the K-9 officer were brought in to search the site. The county attorney was on hand as well during the investigation during the initial stages.
In a later press conference, Lt. Perley said, "Regardless of the pressure of the investigation, the Conway Police Department and the state police have mustered every resource that we have available. We certainly don't shrink from pressure or responsibility. Our responsibility pales in comparison to the stress the family is feeling. We will do everything we can to alleviate the stress and reunite Krista with her family…This is a serious crime in a small community. I would urge people to be extra vigilant. Something that was seen after the fact could be just as important as something seen before."
Lt. Perley reiterated that he has been the main source of media information since the beginning of the investigation and remains the primary contact person for any questions. He declined to respond about Sheriff Chris Conley's statement published in the April 26 edition of the Union Leader that "we believe there is blood evidence in the vehicle." Lt. Perley said any response regarding specific evidence or information could hinder the investigation. "Comments on evidence impede the integrity of investigations and makes it difficult to evaluate the veracity of witnesses who may come forward," said Lt. Perley.
A Facebook page titled, "Help Find Krista Dittmeyer" has been set up to share information and within 24 hours the page had 2,000 "friends." Family, friends and complete strangers downloaded and copied the missing person flyer and were posting them all over the Mount Washington Valley and into Maine.
Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Perley announced three agents from the FBI are joining the investigation. They offered their assistance, he said, and it was accepted.
Dittmeyer's family has offered a $3,000 reward for her safe return. Additionally, anyone interested in donating to increase this reward can make a deposit at any TD Banknorth branch.
As of press time, Wednesday morning, there was no further information being released by police.
Dittmeyer has family in Bridgton, Maine and friends in Conway. Anyone with any information, no matter how insignificant it might seem is asked to call Conway Police Department at 603-356-5715 or the department's tip line at 888-448-2847.