Break in the case: Body found in North Conway

The following is an update to a story found in the April 28th edition of the paper.

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. — The New Hampshire State Attorney General’s Office has confirmed that a body pulled from a small pond at the base of Cranmore Mountain Resort ski area by investigators Wednesday morning is, in fact, that of 20-year-old missing single mom Krista Deann Dittmeyer, who grew up in Bridgton and graduated from Lake Region High School three years ago.

A communication broadcast over the police scanner Wednesday morning indicated that a body had been found in the pond located near a child care center.

Yet, even though word spread rapidly throughout the Mount Washington Valley and the Lake Region April 27 that Dittmeyer’s body had been found in Duck Pond, the New Hampshire Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Michael A. Delaney, did not officially confirm Dittmeyer’s death, until she had been positively identified later in the day.

Also on Wednesday, the N.H. Dept. of Justice took over the handling of the case from the Conway Police Department that had been assisted by both the New Hampshire State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its search for Dittmeyer. A press conference scheduled by investigators for 3 p.m. on Wednesday was cancelled, and all questions were referred to the Attorney General’s Office.

Assistant Attorney General Jane Young, who is now heading up the investigation, is a homicide prosecutor.

Wednesday night press conference

At the outset of Wednesday night’s press conference, which was held at the wooded crime scene at 6:30 p.m., Assistant Attorney General Young said Dittmeyer’s family wants no further contact with the media from this point forward, unless it is done through the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

“They are asking that they not be contacted by the media,” said Young. “All inquiries will go through me.”

“It is with great sorrow that I tell you Krista’s Dittmeyer’s body was found in an area known around here as Duck Pond,” Young said, moments later. “We are treating this as a suspicious death.”

Dittmeyer’s body was transported to the state medical examiner’s office in Concord, according to Young, and an autopsy will be performed Thursday morning, she said.

Once the autopsy of Dittmeyer’s body is completed, “We may be able to release to you the manner and cause of her death,” Assistant Attorney General Young said.

“This area is still considered a crime scene, and it will be sealed off for at least 24 hours,” said Young Wednesday night.

“The Conway Police Department has used all of its resources,” during its investigation, Young stated. “This has been an outstanding effort by the law enforcement community throughout this state. This has been part of the methodical investigation that law enforcement has been doing.”

Asked if people should be concerned for their safety until a suspect in Dittmeyer’s death is apprehended, Young replied, “I can’t say there’s a heightened safety (concern) to the public, at this time.”

The assistant attorney general also requested the public’s help in piecing together the circumstances leading up to and resulting in Dittmeyer’s disappearance and her subsequent death.

Young said she would ask anyone who knows any information about Dittmeyer’s actions “on Friday, Friday evening into early Saturday morning” to call either the Conway Police Department or the New Hampshire State Police. The Conway Police Department phone number is (603) 356-5715, and the Anonymous Tip Line is 1-888-Giv-A-Tip (1-888-448-2847).

The circumstances

Dittmeyer’s late model black Nissan Sentra sedan was found idling in a parking lot near the base of Mount Cranmore around 6:30 a.m. on April 23 with her 14-month-old daughter Aliyah asleep in the back seat. The front door of her Nissan Sentra sedan was ajar, according to investigators. A passerby spotted Dittmeyer’s vehicle and reported it to police. Aliyah is now being cared for by her maternal grandmother, LaNell Shackley, of Bridgton.

Investigators obtained warrants this week to search Dittmeyer’s vehicle as well as a second vehicle whose owner has not been named.

Investigators used crime scene tape April 27 to cordon off the area near the small snowmaking pond located approximately one-quarter mile from where Dittmeyer’s car was found early Saturday morning, and they asked the press to move away from the area, around 9 a.m.

Earlier in the week, police had drained a different pond in the vicinity of where Dittmeyer’s vehicle was found abandoned, but that search turned up nothing, they said.

Conway Police Department Lieutenant Chris Perley kept the public updated on the status of the ongoing investigation, always stating that the focus was “to find Krista and reunite her with her family,” particularly little Aliyah.

Dittmeyer’s boyfriend and the father of her young daughter is 26-year-old Kyle Acker who grew up in North Conway and attended Kennett High School. He is currently incarcerated in the Maine State Prison at Warren, serving 18 months of a four-year sentence for an aggravated trafficking in Scheduled drugs (cocaine) conviction. He was arrested last July in South Portland by investigators from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

A community in mourning

Sadly, a vigil planned for Thursday night in front of Stevens Brook Elementary School in Bridgton as a way to give hope and support to her family that Dittmeyer would be found alive turned into a memorial gathering, instead.

Dittmeyer is remembered by most who knew her as the loving, devoted, caring mother and friend that she was. She has always loved children, her family and friends said, and she was never happier than on the day she gave birth to Aliyah.

She was described by family and friends as “sweet”, “lovely”, “kind” and  “caring”.

Dittmeyer, who was residing in Portland at the time of her death, was a waitress at Ricky’s Diner on Main Street in Bridgton for two years, prior to moving to the city where she worked at a restaurant in South Portland.

Roger Lowell, her principal at LRHS, described Dittmeyer as a young woman who “was always a bundle of energy — a neat kid.”

Editor’s Note: The following story was filed as The News went to press Wednesday morning.
By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

There is nothing in this world more important to Krista Deann Dittmeyer than her 14-month-old baby daughter, Aliyah.

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At press time
UPDATE — Police cordoned off a small pond around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning and asked members of the press to move away from the area, in their search for missing 20-year-old single mother Krista Deann Dittmeyer.
According to witnesses, police scanner traffic indicated there could be a body in a snowmaking pond.
The pond is located approximately one-quarter mile from where Krista’s car was found over the weekend with her 14-month-old baby daughter sleeping inside at a ski resort in North Conway, New Hampshire.
The small snowmaking pond is close to a child care center at the Cranmore Resort.
The N.H. State Police has turned the case over to the state Attorney General’s office. The case will be handled by Assistant Attorney General Jane Young, who is a known homicide prosecutor.
Initially, police planned to hold a 3 p.m. press conference, but later cancelled. The Bridgton News was unable to verify if the body found was that of Ms. Dittmeyer. For updates, check the website:
Sandy Pasquale, an organizer of tonight’s (April 28)  candlelight vigil at Stevens Brook Elementary at 8 p.m., said it would still take place to show the community’s continuing support for Krista’s daughter and the rest of her family.


That fact is why her older sister, Kayla, knows in her heart that 20-year-old Krista would never willingly “abandon” her little girl in the back of her car — left alone in her car seat in a dark parking lot at a ski resort in North Conway, New Hampshire that had closed for the season.

THE SEARCH — Friends and family distributed "missing" flyers around Bridgton and the Lake Region Tuesday in hopes of finding more information regarding the disappearance of Krista Dittmeyer, who grew up in Bridgton and moved to Portland. (Rivet Photo)

Responding to news reports that said Krista’s baby girl was “abandoned” by her sister, Kayla said, “I was so angry, when I heard the word ‘abandon.’” No — she would never abandon her child. She did everything she could, to keep that baby safe.”

Kayla flew to Maine from her home in Colorado, as soon as she was made aware that her sister, who is 15 months younger, was missing.
Krista, who graduated from Lake Region High School in 2008, was living in Portland and waitressing at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar in South Portland, at the time of her unexplained disappearance.

Police said Krista’s late-model Nissan Sentra sedan was found at 6:30 Saturday morning in the parking lot of the Cranmore Resort Ski Area Recreational facility and the vehicle was running with its emergency flashers on and the front door of the car open. Baby Aliyah was transported via ambulance to Memorial Hospital in North Conway where she was evaluated before being turned over to her grandmother, LaNell Shackley of Bridgton, who is caring for her.

Now, as a nationwide manhunt is underway for Krista, and her bewildering disappearance was the lead story on every network television outlet and major newspaper across the country, this week — her friends, and even complete strangers, in Bridgton and throughout the Lake Region, are rallying together to support Krista’s family. They are being proactive by posting the missing person poster for Krista on their Facebook pages — and they are going to gather round at a candlelight vigil at Stevens Brook Elementary School in Bridgton tonight, April 28, at 8 p.m., where candles will be lit at 8:30 p.m.

Krista’s family is offering a $3,000 reward for information that leads to her whereabouts and location. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Conway Police Department at (603) 356-5715 or by calling the Anonymous Tip Line at 1-888-Giv-A-Tip (1-888-448-2847).

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Chris Perley of the Conway Police Department said he could not confirm published reports on April 26 that investigators had found blood evidence inside Krista’s car. However, Lt. Perley did tell The Bridgton News late Tuesday afternoon, “That report was attributed to (Chris Conley) the sheriff of Carroll County (N.H.), and he’s not been a component of this investigation, and we are not going to comment on specific pieces of information we are or are not in possession of.”

Perley stated that his department and the New Hampshire State Police had been mounting a “cooperative effort to follow up on leads and tip lines.”

As to Krista’s disappearance being considered a criminal act, Perley said that is because there is no reason to believe Krista voluntarily left her vehicle with her baby inside. Lt. Perley said the car had been running for several hours, before it was spotted by a passerby at 6:30 a.m. on April 23 who notified police.

“We do not believe she left of her own volition,” said Lt. Perley. He said there is nothing to indicate that Krista was suicidal or suffering from mental illness, when she vanished.

“It’s an active criminal investigation,” Perley stated.

The area where Krista’s car was found was thoroughly searched both on the ground and from the air, and a nearby retention pond was drained, as well, with no results. However, Lt. Perley has said Krista may not have been in the area where her baby daughter was found, which suggests someone else may have brought the child to that location and left her there for someone to find.

According to Lt. Perley, police have developed “some substantial leads” in the case.

Search warrants have been obtained for Krista’s car and a second vehicle, but Perley would not elaborate on the details. Investigators are also analyzing Krista’s computer records, bank accounts and cell phone call history. The last known call Krista made was to her mother around 8 p.m. on Friday night, according to investigators. LaNell Shackley told Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show Wednesday morning that Krista told her mother in that phone conversation that she would see the family on Easter Sunday. She disappeared just a few hours after the call to her mother.

“We gathered physical evidence and are having it analyzed,” the lieutenant said. “We are investigating not only the circumstance of Krista’s disappearance, but also to find Krista and bring her home. If the public has any tips at all, we want them to feel free to call — even if they feel it is insignificant — our phones are manned 24 hours a day — we would appreciate any and all help we can get in solving this matter.”

Krista Dittmeyer is five feet, two inches tall, weighing 117 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.

FBI now involved in Krista’s disappearance

Lt. Perley confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had entered the investigation into Krista’s disappearance Tuesday, by assigning three special agents from its New Hampshire office to the case.

“Our focus was, and still is, finding and reuniting Krista with her family,” Lt. Perley said April 26.

Asked how the investigation was progressing on Tuesday, Lt. Perley replied, “With good old-fashioned police work.”

Police have said the father of Krista’s baby, 26-year-old Kyle Acker, was not in the area at the time of her disappearance. In fact, Acker was arrested last July in South Portland by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for aggravated trafficking in Scheduled drugs (cocaine) and is serving 18 months of a four-year sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren. Acker had a North Conway address, at the time of his arrest on July 1, 2010.

Nationwide focus on Krista’s disappearance

Krista Dittmeyer’s case has gained national, and even international, attention from news media outlets, and Nancy Grace of Headline News did nearly a full hour on her disappearance Monday night.

When questioned by Grace, Lt. Perley clarified that he has never said force was used in Krista’s disappearance.

“We have not said nor confirmed that force was used against her, and we are investigating

He also confirmed that she was living with roommates in Portland.

“We have been in contact with the roommates,” said Perley.

Several times, Perley said he could not comment on specifics of Krista’s missing person case.

He said the resources of both the Bridgton Police Department and the Portland Police Department have been utilized by his investigators.

Grace asked the lieutenant, “Do they (the roommates) know what time she left?” “Yes, they do,” Perley replied.

Lt. Perley told Nancy Grace that all affidavits in the investigation into Krista’s disappearance have been sealed, in order to protect the integrity of the case.

“We follow the evidence where it takes us,” Perley told Grace, which he said helps investigators to “include suspects and also exclude suspects.”

A search was announced on Facebook Tuesday that was supposed to take place on April 27 with volunteer searchers meeting at 10 a.m. in North Conway Village.

However, police urged the public not to try to search the area where Krista’s car was found, saying even well meaning people could impede their investigation by doing just that.

Ironic twist?

A CBS television show, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, aired an episode on April 13, 10 days before Krista was discovered missing, which has characteristics similar to those in Krista’s disappearance.

In the episode entitled “Smother,” the FBI investigates instances where young mothers in Manchester, New Hampshire are missing, but their infant children were found in the same location where the mothers were kidnapped. On the show, one of the mothers who was abducted from a parking lot in Manchester and her baby was found safe in a vehicle with a door ajar, just as Krista’s was.

Lt. Perley said he is aware of the Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior television show episode, saying linking it in any way to Krista’s disappearance would be merely speculative.

Krista’s sister Kayla speaks out

Pointing to Krista’s devotion to her daughter and her strong desire to protect her at all costs, Kayla said she believes her sister convinced whoever took her to not harm little Aliyah.

“She is a very loving mom,” said Kayla. “She would never leave Aliyah alone. She has always done whatever it takes to keep her safe and healthy. She thinks the world of her daughter, and her daughter thinks the world of her.”

“I want people to know that Krista is definitely one of the strongest people I know — physically and mentally,” said Kayla. “I honestly believe she’s out there somewhere and holding on, waiting for someone to find her.”

Krista loves children of all ages, and often babysat for friends’ children, long before she had her own little girl.

Kayla said she and her family are very appreciative of the support and love they have received.

“And it was so fast — the support from everyone — the town, the state, New England and the country — it’s just amazing. We just ask people to pray and hope.”

Krista always acted like the older sister, even though Kayla is 15 months older.

“As a sister she is the same,” said Kayla. “She’s very strong and powerful. She definitely is.”

Former Lake Region High School principal Roger W. Lowell said he remembers Krista as a student who “was always a bundle of energy — a neat kid.”

Sandy Pasquale, an organizer of tonight’s candlelight vigil, said, “I have known Krista since she was a little girl. My husband coached her. She’s just a sweet girl. She was always independent, always working hard — she always wanted to stand on her own two feet. She loves children — loves kids. She didn’t want to depend on anyone. This candlelight vigil is to build hope and keep hope going. People are welcome to share their words of encouragement and hope. We just need Krista home.”

Family friend Carolyn Helwig of Bridgton said she has known Krista for at least 10 years and that she babysat for her grandchildren numerous times.
“I think she’s a lovely girl, and I hope they find her,” Helwig stated. “I feel terrible for her family – I can’t imagine what her mom’s going through.”

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