California murder suspect killed in Idaho, girl rescued
A California fugitive suspected of killing a longtime friend and her son and kidnapping her 16-year-old daughter was shot dead in the remote Idaho wilderness by an FBI agent on Saturday and the girl rescued safely, law enforcement officials said.
James Lee DiMaggio, 40, was slain by an FBI agent while authorities were attempting to take him into custody at Morehead Lake in the rugged Frank Church River of No Return Wildnerness, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said at an afternoon news conference.
The girl, Hannah Anderson, was found with DiMaggio at the lake, about 90 miles northeast of Boise, and rescued by authorities apparently in good health. She was taken by helicopter to an Idaho hospital and will be reunited with her father as early as Sunday.
“Hannah is safe and that’s the best outcome we were hoping for, our top priority,” Andrea Dearden, spokeswoman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Department, told reporters at a separate news briefing in Cascade, Idaho, just outside the wilderness park.
Mary Rook, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Salt Lake City office, said DiMaggio and the teen were spotted by agents with a special hostage rescue team at a campsite near the lake at about 5:20 p.m. Mountain Time (7:20 p.m. EDT).
“Agents moved in to rescue Hannah and the suspect is deceased,” she said.
Rook declined to provide more details of what she called a “very challenging situation” pending an investigation of the incident by an FBI shooting review team. It was not immediately clear if DiMaggio fired on the agents but there were no reports of law enforcement officers injured in the operation.
“Now that Hannah is safe and being evaluated in a medical facility, FBI victim specialists are working with Hannah and her family to get them the resources they need as they enter this next challenging phase of this incident,” she said.
More than 150 law enforcement officers on foot and on horseback had descended on the wilderness after a group of people returning from a horseback ride in the back country told police that they had spotted DiMaggio with the girl backpacking there on Wednesday.
One of the riders told police he exchanged casual pleasantries with the man and his young companion and saw no indication that she was in distress or being held against their will. He said that she and DiMaggio had behaved oddly but gave no cause for alarm.
Police searched the trailhead for clues and found DiMaggio’s car, stripped of its license plates and covered with brush. Police feared the car could be rigged with explosives but a bomb squad found none on Friday.
The telecommunications technician had been the subject of a massive, multi-state manhunt since the killing of Christina Anderson, 44, and 8-year-old Ethan and the abduction of Hannah, all of whom were last seen last Saturday.
The following day DiMaggio is suspected of having set his home on fire in the San Diego area community of Boulevard, triggering a multi-state search and child abduction Amber Alerts.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s office confirmed on Friday that the remains of a second body found at the house were Ethan’s. Police declined to say how Christina Anderson or her son were killed.
Authorities issued child-abduction alerts across the U.S. West and notified authorities in Canada and Mexico to watch for the wanted man and either of the Anderson children.
Police say DiMaggio bought camping equipment and other gear in the weeks leading up to his flight, suggesting that he had planned to hide out in the 2.3 million-acre (930,780-hectare), largely roadless Frank Church long before he fled with the 16-year-old.
He has been described as a longtime friend of the Anderson family who was like an uncle to the children.
Authorities have said they have no evidence of a precipitating incident or circumstances that might have led to the killings and abduction.