In the rural Idaho a search is underway for California resident and murder suspect, James Lee DiMaggio,40, who is believed to have kidnapped 16 year old Hannah Anderson after he allegedly murdered her mother and younger brother in California on Sunday. Idaho is the latest suspected location. The California Highway Patrol received reports that DiMaggio’s Nissan versa was spotted in Oregon but those reports were proven to be false. Authorities then believed that Texas born DiMaggio may have been headed towards his home state. Oregon, California and Washington issued AMBER alerts.
DiMaggio’s Nissan Versa was found about five miles from a trailhead into the area Friday morning. The car was found after a horseback rider reported seeing DiMaggio and Anderson hiking with backs packs in the area on Wednesday. The Valley County and Ada County Sheriff’s department have called in the Idaho State Police, the Idaho Army National Guard as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security and the FBI.
More than 100 law enforcement officials are searching the 320-square-mile area of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, a heavily wooded forest in central Idaho about 70 miles north of Boise. The search will have to be conducted on foot because motorized vehicles are prohibited in this area.
The bodies of Anderson’s mother, Christina, and an unidentified child were found in DiMaggio’s burning San Diego home on Sunday. Authorities suspect the remains might belong to 8 year old Ethan Anderson, Christina’s son and Hannah’s brother. The results of an autopsy and DNA testing will confirm the identity of the remains.
According to Hannah’s father, Brett Anderson, DiMaggio is an outdoor enthusiast with a lot of experience. DiMaggio was a close friend of the Anderson family. Hannah and her brother, Ethan, knew him as Uncle Jim. Brett Anderson was interviewed outside of San Diego County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday night. He pleaded with DiMaggio to release his daughter, “You’ve taken everything else. Jim, I can’t fathom what you were thinking. The damage is done,” he said. Anderson also addressed his daughter, “if you have a chance, you take it. You run. You’ll be found.”
A few of Hannah’s friends have told authorities that DiMaggio had a crush on Hannah. “He said he had a crush on her, but didn’t mean it in an intimate way,” 15-year-old Marissa Chavez told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “He said, ‘If I was your age, I’d date you. The comment made us uneasy.” Marissa also said that DiMaggio took Hannah to Hollywood for a week to celebrate her sixteenth birthday. The trip was cut short when DiMaggio grew upset at the amount of time that Hannah spent on her cellphone. “After that she never responded to his texts and e-mails,” Marissa said.
The mother of another of Hannah’s friends shared a similar story with the local press, “I know Hannah did say she was a little creeped out when Jim did tell her he had a crush on her,” said Angelina Amati, whose two daughters informed her of DiMaggio’s feeling for Hannah only after the AMBER Alert was issued.
Sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said that investigators don’t believe that Hannah was romantically involved with DiMaggio. He told local news, “We think she’s in grave danger.”
By Karen Walcott