California teen rescued, her alleged abductor killed in Idaho wilderness

Posted at 2:29 PM, Aug 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-10 23:11:43-04

By Greg Botelho and David Simpson


(CNN) — A massive manhunt that spanned 1,000 miles ended in gunfire in the Idaho wild late Saturday afternoon — shots that ended the life of the family friend who was suspected of abducting 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and killing her mother and brother.

The teenager was rescued near Morehead Lake, Idaho, where an FBI tactical agent killed her alleged kidnapper, James DiMaggio, around 5:20 p.m (7:20 p.m. ET), authorities said.

“It’s now healing time,” Brett Anderson, Hannah’s father, said in a message to CNN.

Hannah Anderson had last been seen in San Diego County, California, at her cheerleading practice August 3. The bodies of her mother, Christina Anderson, and 8-year-old brother, Ethan, were found the next day about 45 miles east in DiMaggio’s Boulevard house; lab tests were needed to identify the boy because his remains were so badly charred.

That horror spurred a manhunt, which turned to central Idaho after a telling tip from a horseback rider and the discovery of DiMaggio’s blue Nissan Versa in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, about 15 miles outside Cascade, Idaho.

By Saturday morning, there were more than 250 law enforcement agents on site scouring 300 square miles of rough terrain.

By late Saturday afternoon, they’d accomplished their first mission: finding DiMaggio and his alleged captive.

The pair’s campsite was first spotted from the air, then law enforcement personnel moved in on the ground, said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore. He said that there had been a “confrontation,” though authorities speaking a short time later in Idaho declined to say whether there had been a shootout.

However the scene unfolded, it ended with an FBI tactical agent fatally shooting the suspected murderer and kidnapper.

“Obviously we would have liked for Mr. DiMaggio to surrender and face justice in the court of law,” Gore said. “But that’s not going to be the case.”

Saga starts in California, ends in Idaho

The suspect’s car was found after a man on horseback reported he had a brief conversation with two campers in the Idaho wilderness on Wednesday.

The horseback rider was not aware of the manhunt at the time, but he called the Amber Alert tip line after he saw a news account that night and realized the pair matched the description of DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson, according to Ada County, Idaho, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Andrea Dearden.

The rider’s impression was that the pair “seemed odd,” though he wasn’t alarmed, she said.

“They did speak and exchange pleasantries. I don’t think there was a lot of information exchanged,” Dearden said. “He left the conversation believing they were camping in the area.”

The rider said the man and girl were on foot, hiking with camping gear, Dearden said.

DiMaggio’s car was found unoccupied Friday — hidden by brush and its license plate removed — spurring authorities to intensify their search in that area even further.

This massive effort included law enforcement personnel from a host of federal, state and local agencies, with Dearden saying they’d “use every single resource possible.” Still, despite the numbers, they faced a daunting task given the expansive, rugged nature of the area.

Ultimately, DiMaggio was spotted and killed not far from where he left his car, according to Dearden.

His alleged captive didn’t appear to have suffered significant physical injuries, though she was nonetheless helicoptered from the scene to a hospital, the sheriff’s spokeswoman said.

“Hannah is safe, and that was our first priority from the very beginning,” Valley County, Idaho, Sheriff Patti Bolen said.

She should be reunited Sunday morning with her father in Idaho, according to Gore.

In his text to CNN, Brett Anderson admitted to feeling a range of emotions upon hearing of his daughter’s rescue soon after his wife and son’s death.

“I am nervous excited saddened 4 my wife and son and worried what my daughter has been through,” he wrote.

Witness: DiMaggio had crush

A friend of Hannah Anderson on Saturday provided a clearer picture of the relationship between DiMaggio and the teen.

Marissa Chavez told CNN that she was in a car with Hannah and DiMaggio a few months ago when the 40-year-old told Hannah he had a crush on her.

He followed it up by saying if he was her age, he would date Hannah, Chavez said.

Hannah was unnerved by the comments, but did not tell her mother because she did not want to ruin the close relationship that her parents had with DiMaggio, Chavez said.

After that, however, Hannah did not want to be alone with DiMaggio, Chavez said.

In an earlier episode, Chavez recalled a trip that DiMaggio and Hannah took to Hollywood. The trip was supposed to be for one week, but Hannah told Chavez that they came back after two days because DiMaggio was upset that she wasn’t paying enough attention to him.

“I don’t think she would have gone willingly with him at all,” she said.

CNN’s Mariano Castillo, Alicia Eakin, Michael Martinez and AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.

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