— The mother of Krista Dittmeyer, the 20-year-old Portland, Maine, woman who mysteriously vanished sometime before dawn Saturday from a New Hampshire ski resort, leaving her infant daughter asleep in the back of her running car, says she has no doubt that the young woman was abducted. And she has this message for her daughter and for the person or people who kidnapped her.
“First, I would like to say, Krista, I know you can hear me, I know you’re out there,” LaNell Shackley said in an exclusive interview Wednesday with TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “I love you ... Your whole family loves you and want you home, safe and sound.
“Whoever has her, just please drop her off wherever ... just let her be found, please. Just let her be found,” she added.
The mystery began just about dawn on Saturday when a passerby notified police after he spotted Dittmeyer’s black Nissan Sentra, its hazard lights flashing, its door ajar, parked and running in the lot of the Cranmore Mountain ski resort, some 60 miles from Dittmeyer’s home. The single mom’s 14-month-old daughter, Aliyah, was in the backseat, asleep and unharmed. But Dittmeyer was nowhere in sight.
Police immediately launched an air and ground search for Dittmeyer, and though the matter is officially classified as a missing persons case for the moment, authorities have told NBC News that they do not believe Dittmeyer would voluntarily leave her daughter. The FBI has joined the probe, and investigators say that they are combing Dittmeyer’s car and her cell phone records for clues. They are also examining a second vehicle, though police declined to say what role that car might have played in the case.
There have also been disturbing reports that some evidence has been found that could indicate foul play. A local newspaper, citing sources in the sheriff’s department, reported that bloodstains were found in Krista’s car, though police have not confirmed that to NBC.
For now, Dittmeyer’s family, which is offering a $3,000 reward for information in the case, said they have nothing but questions.
There was nothing in Dittmeyer’s behavior in the days leading up to her disappearance that signaled that there was anything amiss, no sign that she was troubled or that she had any reason to fear anyone, her sister, Kayla Dittmeyer, told Lauer. The sisters had spoken on the telephone just two days earlier, Kayla said.
“She was happy,” Kayla said. “Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at all.”
And on Friday night, just hours before she vanished, Krista told her mother in a telephone conversation that she was driving to New Hampshire. There was nothing unusual about the chat, Shackley said.
“It was a quick conversation. She was expecting something in the mail at my house and I told her she didn’t get it,” Shackley said. “It was just brief. She was normal, and I would see her on Sunday, Easter Sunday.”
Looking back, Shackley said, she can’t imagine why anyone would want to kidnap Dittmeyer. “I don’t believe ... anybody had a vendetta against her,” she said. “She’s very lovable, very outgoing. I don’t know who would want to do something to hurt her.”
The young woman had been working as a waitress in Portland and had been living alone with her 14-month-old daughter since January, when the baby’s father, Kyle Acker, began a four-year prison term for drug trafficking. While police say they have ruled no one out as a suspect, they say that Acker was clearly nowhere near New Hampshire when Dittmeyer disappeared. Police say they are making progress in the case, though they declined to elaborate.
As the investigation continues, Shackley has been caring for baby Aliyah. As hard as the ordeal has been for Shackley, it’s also been difficult for the baby, she said.
“She is doing exceptionally well,” Shackley said. “She has her moments, like any 14-month-old ... she’s got restless nights. She pretty much sleeps with my daughter every night, and she definitely misses her and she’s been crying a lot at night.
“She’s very confused — all these people around she’s not really familiar with,” Shackley added. “Daytime, she’s very happy. It’s the nights she has a hard time with.”