Kidnapped California teenager to reunite with father after her rescue
A kidnapped California teenager rescued from the Idaho wilderness after an FBI agent shot and killed her suspected abductor was expected to be reunited with her father on Sunday, authorities said.
Hannah Anderson, 16, was airlifted on Saturday evening from an alpine lake in west central Idaho after a rescue in the rough terrain of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness that culminated in the death of her suspected kidnapper, James Lee DiMaggio, 40.
The FBI rescue came after a two-day manhunt by more than 150 law enforcement agents in the rugged mountains for DiMaggio, who was wanted in the killing of Anderson’s mother, Christina Anderson, 44, and her brother Ethan, 8.
DiMaggio, a longtime friend of the Anderson family, was killed by an FBI agent after he and the teenager were spotted at a primitive campsite on Saturday afternoon near Morehead Lake, about 90 miles northeast of Boise, the state capital.
Authorities were withholding details about the shooting pending a required FBI investigation.
It was unclear if DiMaggio was armed or if he shot at officers during the rescue. The girl suffered no apparent injuries but was to be evaluated at an area hospital, Mary Rook, head of the FBI’s Salt Lake City office, said on Saturday.
Hospitals in Boise said Anderson was not among their patients. The medical center in Cascade, a small town nearest the manhunt, declined to confirm or deny if she was there.
The search of Western states for the pair narrowed to Idaho last week after a group of backcountry horseback riders reported seeing them on a trail near Morehead Lake.
The Frank Church wilderness stretches across 2.3 million acres of towering peaks, alpine forests and wild and scenic rivers in central Idaho.
Police found DiMaggio’s car, covered with brush and stripped of license plates, at a trailhead at the edge of the wilderness. That triggered a massive search on foot, horseback and air by federal, state and local law enforcement.
“Hannah is safe, and that’s the best outcome we were hoping for, our top priority,” said Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Office in Boise.
Anderson, her mother and her brother were last seen on August 3. The next day, DiMaggio, a telecommunications technician, is suspected of setting his home on fire in San Diego.
Police found the bodies of Christina Anderson and her young son in the house but have declined to say how they were killed.
The mountain rescue was complicated by steep terrain, and a helicopter was used to drop FBI hostage rescue teams far from the lake where DiMaggio set up camp. The teams hiked in for two hours, said Ada County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Patrick Orr.
“They didn’t want to alert DiMaggio they were coming. Once the teams set up, they waited until DiMaggio and Hannah separated and moved in,” Orr said in a statement.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said on Saturday that the girl’s father, Brett Anderson, was “elated” she was found alive.
“Obviously, he was very relieved and very excited and looking forward to being reunited with his daughter,” he said.
Their reunion was planned for Sunday at the hospital where the teenager was receiving “as much care physically and emotionally as possible,” Dearden said.
Police have said they are still trying to identify what prompted the crimes and DiMaggio’s motives.
His uncle in Idaho, Joe DiMaggio, said in interviews over the weekend that his nephew was haunted by his father’s suicide and mother’s death from cancer some years back.
“I’m very confused. He was always a gentle person,” DiMaggio said.