Crime

08.11.13

Hannah Anderson Found! Five Things to Know About the Kidnapped Teen

The California teen was found alive on Saturday in Idaho after a harrowing week on the run with her captor, James Lee DiMaggio. It took a multistate manhunt and a little bit of luck to find Anderson, who disappeared after cheerleading practice on August 3. From how she was found to her abductor’s relationship with her family, all you need to know about the case.

1. Anderson and her captor were spotted by horseback riders.

Despite all our technological advancements, the big break in this case came Wednesday, when two couples on horseback in the Idaho wilderness spotted Hannah Anderson and James Lee DiMaggio on a trail and then later by a lake. “She kinda had a scared look on her face,” said rancher Mike Young. “I just had a gut feeling about him.” What tipped them off? Anderson and DiMaggio seemed unprepared for camping, and they were going the wrong way when DiMaggio said they were looking for the Salmon River. And Anderson was wearing what looked like pajama pants—not the most appropriate attire for such rugged terrain. When the two couples returned home, they saw the Amber Alert issued for Anderson and called police. Given the vastness of Idaho’s back country, it’s a miracle the riders came across Anderson once, let alone twice.

Video screenshot

Former Idaho sheriff Mark John noticed 'red flags' when he encountered Anderson and DiMaggio.

2. The kidnapper killed Anderson’s mother and brother.

Before taking Anderson to the backcountry of Idaho, DiMaggio is believed to have killed her brother and mother. Authorities had to use DNA analysis of his bone marrow to identify 8-year-old Ethan Anderson, who along with his mother, Christina, were burned when DiMaggio set fire to his house. Ethan’s body was found inside the home, and Christina’s was found in the garage when firefighters responded to the blaze on Sunday.

3. It was a daring rescue.

Rescuing Anderson was a multistate effort that involved hundreds of law enforcement officials. Agents hiked about 300 square miles of terrain, combing through the wilderness to find the teenager. The mountainous elevations and nearby wildfires made the search difficult, but by Saturday afternoon, the authorities had found their campsite. Helicopters were brought in to drop rescuers off, but they couldn’t get close to the site because of the terrain. Officials had to hike more than two hours to get to Anderson. Then they waited and watched. As soon as Anderson was a safe distance from DiMaggio, they moved in. Anderson was then whisked away in a helicopter. An FBI agent fatally shot DiMaggio during the confrontation.

4. Anderson’s abductor was known to her family.

According to Anderson’s grandparents, Ralph and Sara Britt, DiMaggio had been a longtime friend of the family’s and even had a nickname. “He was Uncle Jim,” said Ralph Britt. “We had known him for years when Hannah was born.”

5. Authorities believe DiMaggio was infatuated with Anderson.

While it may take some time for authorities to piece together DiMaggio’s motive, it appears that he was infatuated with Anderson. One of her friends, Marissa Chavez, told the Associated Press that she saw DiMaggio hitting on Anderson. Chavez said DiMaggio told Anderson he had a crush on her and that he would date her if she wasn’t so young. “She was a little creeped out by it,” Chavez said. “She didn’t want to be alone with him.”