09.24.13

Autopsies on Hannah Anderson’s Family Bring Police No Closer to a Motive

New reports show that the mother and brother of the kidnapped teen were severely beaten before they were killed. Yet police still have no motive. Christine Pelisek reports.

Close to three months after the body of kidnap victim Hannah Anderson’s mother was pulled from the burnt wreckage of a family friend’s home along with her 8-year-old son, a coroner has determined that she died from at least 12 blows to the head and face.

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Jesse Grant/AP

Firefighters found 44-year-old Christina Anderson’s feet sticking out from a partially melted green tarp inside the three-car garage of James DiMaggio’s two-story log cabin home in Boulevard, 65 miles east of San Diego, on the evening of August 4. At least three layers of silver metallic duct tape were wrapped around her neck and mouth with portions of the tape in her mouth, according to the autopsy report released by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office. The large roll of duct tape was still attached and found next to her head by firefighters. Her legs were also tied together with a white zip tie. Anderson, who was partially burned and lying face down, also had a 5½-inch gaping wound to her neck that was most likely meted out after she was dead and a fractured wrist.

A crowbar was found next to her body.

The charred remains of Anderson’s son, Ethan, were found inside the burned-down cabin the following day. His cause of death could not be determined because of the burns and the large amount of tissue loss. However, the coroner did not rule out gunshot wounds, or asphyxiation as the likely cause of his demise. “He had fractures of the skull, ribs, and long bones: these were most likely thermal-related, but, traumatic causes cannot be completely excluded,” according to the report. “Homicidal violence including blunt force injury, sharp force injury, asphyxia, and gunshot wounds cannot be excluded.”

Anderson’s brown and white dog was also discovered in the garage with a gunshot wound to the head.  

DiMaggio, 40, fled California with 16-year-old Hannah shortly after he killed Christina and Ethan Anderson and set fire to his home using a timer. Hannah’s disappearance set off a gigantic multi-agency manhunt that stretched from the Mexican border to the backcountry of Idaho. A week later it culminated in the safe return of the teen and the death by FBI sniper fire of DiMaggio in the Idaho wilderness after a group of horseback riders saw the pair with DiMaggio’s cat.

Police have never offered up a motive as to why DiMaggio killed Christina and Ethan Anderson and abducted Hannah. At a press conference in August, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said the teen was a “victim in every sense of the word.”

Gore told The Daily Beast that DiMaggio, who was employed with Scripps Research Institute and worked in telecommunications, planned the abduction down to the letter. “We don’t think this was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” he said. “It was not spontaneous. She was clearly the target.”