Hannah Anderson and James DiMaggio during outing
One of the big stories this summer was that of a 16 year old California girl kidnapped by a family friend. At the same time, law enforcement attempted to find out just who were the burned remains of a fire at the kidnapper’s house.
That story came to an end when Hannah Anderson was rescued and her kidnapper, James DiMaggio, shot and killed by an FBI agent in Idaho. Sheriff Bill Gore of San Diego said that California teen was “under extreme duress” from the entire situation and was unaware of the fate of her mother and 8 year old brother.
Sheriff Bill Gore went on to mention that Hannah Anderson was “doing as well as can be expected after the terrible ordeal she’s been through.”
The family is asking for time “to heal and grieve.” Her father Brett Anderson said “The healing process will be slow. She’s been through a terrific, horrendous ordeal.”
FBI investigators informed Hannah Anderson that her mother and brother had been killed last week in the burned house located close to the Mexico border that belonged to DiMaggio. When the search for the two began, it was suspected that DiMaggio would attempt to go into Mexico as he had lived there for some time in the past.
From The Beginning
The series of events began August 4 following James DiMaggio (40) murdering Christina Anderson and Ethan Anderson, Hannah’s mother and brother. It’s been speculated that DiMaggio set the fire after his home in Boulevard, California had been foreclosed on.
At the time of the discovery, both Hannah and Ethan were listed as missing while investigators attempted to identify the two bodies at the scene. This prompted several AMBER alerts in four states that DiMaggio and his hostages could be heading.
As the situation progressed, it was revealed that DiMaggio—who was called “Uncle Jim” by the children in the family—was “infatuated” with Hannah and had even told her that he would date her if she was around his age.
On The Trail
Sheriff Gore said that a tip from four people on horseback was the main thing that led to the teen’s rescue. Former Gem County Sheriff Mark John (71) was riding horses with his wife and another couple and said that they not only saw DiMaggio and Hannah, but they spoke with them on two separate occasions.
John told Sweet, Idaho reporters that “Red flags kind of went up. He might have been an outdoorsman in California, but he wasn’t an outdoorsman in Idaho.”
The sighting by the horseback riders went in tandem with law enforcement finding DiMaggio’s Nissan Versa on a trail leading into the woods. It was initially suspected that the car was rigged, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.
Hannah Anderson with her family
When the former sheriff saw the two, he said that they were in different gear from what they were wearing before and were heading in the opposite direction of where they said they were going. He noted that Hannah appeared scared but was otherwise fine. They also said that she was wearing clothes unfitting for hiking (pajama pants, a sweat shirt, and no rain gear).
Mark John said that the pair “did not want to talk to us whatsoever.”
Mike Young, who was with the horseback party, told reporters “She was trying to turn her face away. Then, when we went up the trail a little ways, I turned around and told these guys that there was something wrong there. It just wasn’t right.”
The party came across DiMaggio and Hannah again and attempted to make conversation and joked with Hannah. John recounted the second encounter stating that Hannah either said “Looks like we’re all in trouble now” or “We’re in real trouble now.” Afterwards his party continued their ride.
Christa John stated that Hannah and DiMaggio followed their party to the lake. “She was just sitting there and I just felt I should go over and kind of see if she needed help and make contact with her. I’m glad I didn’t because that could have turned out terribly wrong for the four of us.”
Tightening the Noose
Since the area was mostly mountainous and there was nowhere the helicopter could drop the ground team off, the FBI agents hiked for over two hours to the campsite.
Once at the campsite, the team waited until they had an opportunity. That opportunity came when Hannah and DiMaggio separated. The encounter ended with James DiMaggio being shot by agents. During an interview with the FBI, Hannah said that DiMaggio fired a shot from his rifle while the hostage team was tightening the noose on their lakeside campsite.
Sheriff Bill Gore said that they “would’ve liked Mr. DiMaggio to surrender and face justice in the court of law, but that’s not going to be the case.”
Hannah was rescued Saturday in Idaho at Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. She was reunited with her father the next day. Sara Britt, Hannah’s maternal grandmother, said of the reunion “We have to focus on burying my daughter and my grandson who was murdered, and that’s something we’ll take a long time to deal with. But the positive note is Hannah coming home.”
Britt also said that the family was glad to know Hannah was safe and that DiMaggio wouldn’t be able to menace their family nor would they have to go through a lengthy trial. “I wouldn’t want to see anyone dead, but it happened. We’re excited to have our granddaughter home.”