James DiMaggio family requests DNA samples for Hannah Anderson, her brother

Posted at 6:30 AM, Aug 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-21 08:30:44-04

By Amanda Watts. Dave Alsup and Greg Botelho

(CNN) — James DiMaggio’s family is requesting DNA samples from the family of Hannah Anderson, the 16-year-old girl he’s accused of kidnapping and whose mother and brother were found dead in his burned home.

The reason? They want to know if he was Hannah and 8-year-old Ethan’s biological father, a family spokesman said.

“We are going to be requesting from the Anderson family that we try to get DNA samples from Hannah. And if they have anything left from Ethan, that we get a DNA sample,” family spokesman Andrew Spanswick told CNN affiliate KGTV. “There has been a lot of rumors that Jim might be the father of either or both children.”

Reached by CNN, Spanswick said DiMaggio’s sister, Lora, is making the request, but would not elaborate further.

A representative for the Anderson family appeared to shoot down the theory.

“Brett and Tina Anderson did not meet Mr. DiMaggio until the sixth month of Tina’s pregnancy with Hannah. Brett Anderson’s DNA was used to identify the body of his dead son Ethan Anderson,” the family statement said.

A complex case

There was a time when the Hannah Anderson abduction case seemed clear-cut.

DiMaggio, a close Anderson family friend, allegedly kills Hannah’s mother and brother, burns his house down, kidnaps Hannah and goes on the run. After a frantic week-long manhunt, he is spotted in the Idaho wilderness and shot dead by an FBI agent. Hannah is safe and reunited with her father.

That was on August 10.

With each passing day since then, the case has taken on added complexity.

On Monday, the Anderson family spokeswoman told CNN that DiMaggio, 40, left a life insurance policy from his job as a telecommunications tech that named Hannah and Ethan’s grandmother, Bernice Anderson, as the beneficiary.

Stacy Hess, the spokeswoman, did not know the dollar amount but other media outlets put it at around $110,000.

“We find it very strange that he has left all this money without any explanation,” Spanswick told KGTV, in explaining the need for the DNA tests.

“It states specifically that he didn’t want to give it to either parent cause he didn’t trust them,” Spanswick said, referring to Hannah’s parents.

The Anderson children called DiMaggio “Uncle Jim.” One search warrant referred to Hannah’s mother as DiMaggio’s “best friend’s wife.”

Hannah spotted with captor

Then there is this.

Hannah was seen in a car with DiMaggio about 20 hours before he allegedly set fire to his house, police said Tuesday.

The two were seen in DiMaggio’s blue Nissan Versa just after midnight Sunday, August 4, said San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell. She confirmed reporting from the Los Angeles Times that the two were spotted at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.

Caldwell did not say what the two were doing together, or if Hannah Anderson was with DiMaggio voluntarily.

CNN was unable to get an Anderson family response to this revelation.

Actions raise eyebrows

Some of Hannah’s actions have raised eyebrows in some quarters.

A friend of Hannah’s told authorities “DiMaggio took her on multiple day trips,” according to a search warrant.

The same document said phone records indicate the two “called each other approximately 13 times” shortly before both their phones were turned off around 4 p.m. (7 p.m. ET) on August 4.

That was around the time that Hannah was picked up from cheerleading practice at Sweetwater High School, the warrant says, while noting it wasn’t known who picked her up.

The same document says that a fire was reported at around 8 p.m. later that day at DiMaggio’s two-story log cabin and a detached garage in Boulevard, California.

After battling the fire, authorities found the bodies of the teenager’s mother, Christina Anderson, and Ethan.

An affidavit claimed that both had been “tortured and killed” by DiMaggio, who then set his home and garage ablaze.

A fire captain found Christina Anderson face down in the garage, covered with a tarp, and with a crowbar and what appeared to be blood next to her head.

The manhunt

An Amber Alert was issued the next day.

The ordeal ended about 1,000 miles from where it started, on August 10, when an FBI tactical agent shot and killed DiMaggio in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, about 15 miles outside Cascade, Idaho.

As to Hannah, she was physically unharmed and soon returned to her family in Southern California.

The teenager hasn’t spoken publicly or with reporters since the ordeal. But she did field anonymous questions on the website, according to Alan MacNabb, whose son is one of Hannah’s closest friends.

In those comments, she said DiMaggio had apparently set some kind of a timing device to start the blaze at his home. She also said she did not want to go with her “dad’s best friend” and that, had she tried to escape from him, “He would have killed me.”

Search finds

San Diego County deputies searching DiMaggio’s charred home found a handwritten note, handcuff box, camping equipment, a DNA swab kit, two used condoms and letters from Hannah, according to an affidavit.

Contents of the letters and the handwritten note were not revealed in the affidavit.

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