BY ELLIOT SPAGAT – ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The 16-year-old California girl kidnapped by a close family friend suspected of killing her mother and 8-year-old brother says he threatened to kill her if she tried to escape and got what he deserved when he died in a shootout with authorities in the Idaho wilderness.
Hannah Anderson went online barely 48 hours after her rescue Saturday and started fielding hundreds of questions through a social media site. Many were typical teenage fare – she likes singer Justin Bieber and her favorite color is pink – but she also answered queries about how she was kidnapped, how she survived captivity and how she is dealing with the deaths of her mother and brother.
The postings started Monday night, hours after her father publicly requested that the family be allowed to grieve and heal in private. Brett Anderson didn’t respond to a text message seeking comment about his daughter’s postings, which continued into Tuesday evening. The account was disabled Wednesday morning.
James Lee DiMaggio, 40, was shot at least five times in the head and chest, said Valley County Coroner Nathan Hess, who completed an autopsy Monday in Boise. He was unable to determine a precise number of gunshot wounds.
DiMaggio’s body was cremated Tuesday near Los Angeles, said family spokesman Andrew Spanswick.
Police have said little about their investigation. Jan Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, said authorities are aware of the online comments but could not confirm the account is Hannah’s.
The postings appeared on the ask.fm social-networking site account for “Hannahbanana722″ of Lakeside, the San Diego County community where the teen lived with her mother and brother. At one point during the lengthy series of posts, a questioner asked Hannah to post a photo and she complied. The image shows her with a wide smile.
Dawn MacNabb, whose son, Alan, is one of Hannah’s closest friends, confirmed the postings were by the teen. Alan spoke on the phone with Hannah on Tuesday and urged her to delete some of the postings, MacNabb said.
“He said she was going to, but I don’t know if she will,” she said.
Anderson declined interview requests from news organizations that posted to her account.
She was kidnapped Aug. 4 by DiMaggio, her father’s best friend who was like an uncle to her and her brother, Ethan. DiMaggio had invited the children and their mother, Christina Anderson, 44, to his house in Boulevard, a rural town 65 miles east of San Diego.
“He told us he was losing his house because of money issues so we went up there one last time to support him, and to have fun riding go karts up there but he tricked us,” Anderson wrote.
Anderson said DiMaggio tied up her mother and brother in his garage. Their bodies were found after a fire destroyed the home. She said she didn’t know they had died until an FBI agent told her at the hospital after rescue Saturday.
“I wish I could go back in time and risk my life to try and save theirs. I will never forgive myself for not trying harder to save them,” she wrote.
Anderson said she “basically” stayed awake for six straight days and DiMaggio ignored her requests for food. She couldn’t try to escape because DiMaggio had a gun and “threatened to kill me and anyone who tried to help.”
Anderson said she was too frightened to ask for help when four horseback riders encountered the pair in the remote wilderness on Wednesday. The riders didn’t report the sightings to police until the next day, after returning home and learning about the massive search spanning much of the western United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.
“I had to act calm I didn’t want them to get hurt. I was scared that he would kill them,” she wrote.
The girl said DiMaggio threatened to kill her if she didn’t help hide his blue Nissan Versa with tree branches. Authorities discovered the car Friday, leading to her rescue the following day.
Asked if she would have preferred DiMaggio got a lifetime prison sentence instead of being killed by FBI agents, she said, “He deserved what he got.”
Anderson acknowledged being uncomfortable around DiMaggio even before the ordeal, saying he once told her that he was drawn to her.
“He said it was more like a family crush like he had feelings as in he wanted nothing bad to happen to me,” she wrote.
She said she didn’t tell her parents because DiMaggio was his father’s best friend “and I didn’t want to ruin anything between them.”
On Monday, Anderson had her nails done – pink for her mother and blue for her brother. She said she anticipates returning to El Capitan High School in the east San Diego suburb of Lakeside for her junior year.
She said she was still in shock. When one commenter said her responses appeared to lack emotion, she wrote, “I’m trying to stay strong. You don’t know I could be crying answering these questions at the moment.”
Therapists say Anderson faces a long recovery, but support from family and friends can help her lead a happy, productive life. Counselors may focus on acknowledging her trauma but not letting it control decisions.
Her father has told at least two people that he planned to move with Hannah to Tennessee, where he lives.
Moving would be a father’s “very normal reaction,” said Jessica Donohue-Dioh, a social work instructor at Xavier University in Cincinnati. She cautioned, however, that it shouldn’t be an attempt to bury the past.
Associated Press writer Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.
BY TODD DVORAK AND ELLIOT SPAGAT
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A close family friend suspected of abducting a 16-year old girl after killing her mother and younger brother fired at least one shot at FBI rescuers before agents killed him deep in the Idaho wilderness, authorities said Monday.
Hannah Anderson didn’t know her mother and brother were dead until she was rescued, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Monday.
“It was clear from the information that we received that she was under extreme duress,” Gore told KSWB-TV, the Fox affiliate in San Diego. “She was taken out of the county, out of the state, clearly against her will.”
James Lee DiMaggio, 40, fired at least one shot from “a shoulder weapon” Saturday during the rescue, Gore said. “The first rule is to try to rescue the hostage here and hopefully take the subject alive. That did not happen in this case.”
Hannah’s father, Brett Anderson, reunited with his daughter Sunday at an undisclosed hospital in Boise, where she was flown hours after her rescue from a camp near an alpine lake. Hannah also rejoined her gray cat, which she had with her in the wilderness.
Hannah’s father was scheduled to speak Monday at a news conference in San Diego with Gore and the head of the FBI’s San Diego office. Jan Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, declined to answer questions about the rescue or investigation.
The massive search spanning much of the Western United States and parts of Canada and Mexico probably would have taken longer if not for a sharp-eyed retired sheriff and three other horseback riders in the rugged backcountry hadn’t seen the pair Wednesday.
Mark John, who retired as a Gem County sheriff in 1996, shared his suspicions with the Idaho State Police after encountering DiMaggio and the girl on the trail. That enabled investigators to focus efforts on a specific portion of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, a 3,600-square-mile roadless preserve in the heart of Idaho.
“They just didn’t fit,” said John, 71. “He might have been an outdoorsman in California, but he was not an outdoorsman in Idaho. … Red flags kind of went up.”
Initially, it was the lack of openness on the trail and a reluctance to engage in the polite exchange of banter like so many other recreationists John has encountered during horseback excursions.
The riders were puzzled why Anderson and DiMaggio were hiking in the opposite direction of their stated destination, the Salmon River.
But more than anything, it was their gear – or lack of it. Neither was wearing hiking boots or rain gear. DiMaggio, described as an avid hiker in his home state of California, was toting only a light pack. It even appeared Anderson was wearing pajama bottoms.
The riders had a second encounter Wednesday, this one at the lake as they were getting ready to head back down the trail. They saw Hannah Anderson soak her feet in the lake and again avoid interaction. Still, nothing about their behavior raised suspicion that DiMaggio was wanted for murder and kidnapping.
“If she was sending us signals that she was in trouble, we didn’t key in on it,” Mary Young, 61, said at a news conference Sunday in Boise.
It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon when the Johns returned home and saw the girl’s photographs on the news that they made a connection and notified police.
On Friday, police found DiMaggio’s car, hidden under brush at a trailhead on the border of the wilderness area. A day later, searchers spotted the pair by air, and two FBI hostage teams moved in on the camp at Morehead Lake, about 8 miles inside the wilderness border and 40 miles east of the central Idaho town of Cascade.
Rescue teams were dropped by helicopter about 2 1/2 hours away from where Anderson and DiMaggio were spotted by the lake, said FBI spokesman Jason Pack. The team had to hike with up to 100 pounds of tactical gear along a rough trail characterized by steep switchbacks and treacherous footing.
The teams waited until Anderson and DiMaggio were no longer near each other before moving in.
The case began when the charred bodies of Anderson’s mother, Christina Anderson, 44, and the teen’s 8-year-old brother, Ethan Anderson, were found in DiMaggio’s burning house in Boulevard, a small town 65 miles east of San Diego on the U.S.-Mexico border.
DiMaggio was extraordinarily close to the family, driving Hannah to gymnastics meets and Ethan to football practice.
Authorities have said DiMaggio may have had an “unusual infatuation” with Hannah, although the father said he never saw any strange behavior.
Valley County Coroner Nathan Hess was performing an autopsy on DiMaggio Monday.
Associated Press writers Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles, and Rebecca Boone in Cascade, Idaho, contributed to this report.
CASCADE, Idaho (AP) — A harrowing weeklong search for a missing California teenager ended Saturday when FBI agents rescued the girl and shot and killed her apparent kidnapper at a campsite deep in the Idaho wilderness.
Hannah Anderson, 16, appeared to be uninjured and will be reunited soon with her father at a hospital, authorities said. Her suspected abductor, James Lee DiMaggio, 40, was killed after his campsite was found in Idaho’s rugged Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, roughly 40 miles from the tiny town of Cascade.
Hannah was taken to a hospital where crisis counselors and health care providers were assisting her. Her father was expected to arrive in Idaho on Sunday to reunite with her.
“We will make sure she gets as much care as possible, physically and emotionally,” said Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman from the Ada County Sheriff’s Department who has been leading the communication team for the interagency effort in Valley County.
The shooting came after officers participating in a massive manhunt for the pair spotted the campsite from the air and an FBI hostage recovery team trekked to the site near Morehead Lake.
“No one really knows where an investigation like this will lead,” said Mary Rook, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City division. “In this case, our team faced a very challenging situation.”
The FBI said it was sending a team to investigate what unfolded before, during and after the shooting. Authorities offered few details Saturday night.
The location wasn’t far from what had been the last known sighting of the pair. A horseback rider called authorities Thursday night to report that on Wednesday he had seen two people who resembled Anderson and DiMaggio with camping gear on a trail near the lake. The rider, whose name wasn’t released, didn’t realize they were subjects of a massive search until he got home and saw news reports.
The case began when the charred bodies of Hannah Anderson’s mother, Christina Anderson, 44, and the teen’s 8-year-old brother, Ethan Anderson, were found in DiMaggio’s burning house outside San Diego, near the Mexico border.
DiMaggio was close to the family. Christina Anderson’s husband, Brett Anderson, has described him as a best friend and said the children thought of him as an uncle.
Authorities have said DiMaggio had an “unusual infatuation” with Hannah, although the father said he never saw any strange behavior.
An Amber Alert was issued, and tips led investigators to Oregon after DiMaggio and the teen were reportedly spotted there.
But it wasn’t until the Idaho horseback rider called in his tip that investigators found a major lead – DiMaggio’s car, hidden under brush at a trailhead on the border of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho.
A contingent of about 270 law enforcement officers from the FBI, the Valley and Ada County sheriffs’ offices, Idaho State Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Border Patrol, aided by experts from federal land management and wildlife agencies, worked around the clock to figure out the best way to track DiMaggio and the teen in the roadless area.
San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore announced Hannah’s rescue and DiMaggio’s death from a news conference in California. He said members of his office notified Hannah’s father, Brett Anderson, of her rescue.
“He was very relieved and very excited and looking forward to being reunited with his daughter,” Gore said.
The father described a range of emotion in a text message to CNN.
“I am nervous excited saddened 4 my wife and son and worried what my daughter has been through,” he wrote to the network. “It’s now healing time. Keep us in your prayers.”
At a separate news conference in Idaho, Dearden said she didn’t know if DiMaggio fired shots at officers but there were no reports of any injuries to authorities involved in the encounter. Cascade residents gathered behind Dearden, Rook and the other officials gathered at the news conference and cheered at the news of Hannah’s rescue.
Rook said FBI victim specialists were working with Hannah and her family to get them the resources they need.
“As grateful as we are that she was recovered safely, we also remember the other victims in this case who lost their lives,” Rook said.
FBI policy calls for an investigation whenever an agent fires a weapon, Rook said. A team from Washington, D.C., was preparing to investigate the events at the campsite, and until that investigation is complete, Rook said she couldn’t share any other details.
Category: National News