Monday, August 12, 2013
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The father of a Lakeside teenager who was rescued in Idaho last weekend after being kidnapped by a family friend who also allegedly murdered her mother and younger brother asked the public today to grant his family privacy while his daughter recovers from her "tremendous, horrific ordeal.''
"Now it's time for us to grieve and move on to the healing process,'' Tennessee resident Brett Anderson said at an afternoon news conference during which he also praised law enforcement agencies for safely returning his 16-year-old daughter, Hannah, to him and thanked the media for publicizing the urgent search for her.
Anderson implored the throng of news crews gathered for the briefing outside sheriff's headquarters in Kearny Mesa "to give me, all of our family and our friends the respect and the time to allow this (recovery) to happen.''
"As for my daughter, the healing process will be slow,'' the father said. "She has been through a tremendous, horrific ordeal.''
He also urged the public to heed missing child alerts, which he credited for leading authorities to his daughter and her abductor, 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio of Boulevard, a longtime close friend to her family.
The girl, who went missing Aug. 3, only learned about the murders of her mother, 44-year-old Christina Anderson, and 8-year-old brother, Ethan, when her rescuers told her after a federal agent fatally shot DiMaggio during an exchange of gunfire in Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area late Saturday afternoon, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said during the news conference.
A day after Hannah disappeared, the badly burned bodies of the woman and child were found along with the remains of their family dog in the embers of DiMaggio's fire-gutted log cabin-style home in Boulevard. Investigators believe the suspect torched the house and a detached garage before fleeing with the girl.
Christina Anderson died of blunt-force trauma, according to investigators. Ethan's cause of death has not been determined.
Authorities began looking for Hannah and the suspect -- whom she had known her entire life and regarded almost as an uncle -- in the 2.3-million-acre wilderness preserve in the northwestern United States after four people riding horses there reported that they had seen a man and a teenager who matched their descriptions.
DiMaggio's blue 2013 Nissan Versa was found hidden under a pile of brush and logs Friday morning near a trailhead about five miles from where the riders had come across the pair two days earlier.
Deputy federal marshals in a helicopter spotted DiMaggio at a campsite near Morehead Lake, about 80 miles northeast of Boise.
Authorities have not disclosed a suspected motive for the crimes, but family friends told reporters that DiMaggio seemed to have developed an infatuation with the teenager, a change that made her uncomfortable.
Gore told reporters the girl had been subject to
"extreme duress'' while being held against her will by the suspect.
"I want to emphasize that during our law enforcement interviews with Hannah, it became very clear that she is a victim in every sense of the word in this horrific crime,'' Gore said. "She was not a willing participant.''
The teenager was in "close proximity'' to DiMaggio when he shot a rifle toward members of an FBI hostage-rescue team in the Idaho wilderness, prompting one of them to return fire, according to Gore. She appeared to be physically unharmed following her rescue.
"She is doing as well as could be expected after the terrible ordeal she's been through,'' Gore said.
In addition to thanking "all of the branches of the law enforcement involved in their quick actions and professionalism in all aspects of this investigation,'' Hannah's father expressed gratitude to the people who reported their fortuitous chance encounter with Hannah and DiMaggio.
"For without you, who knows how long this would have gone on,'' he said. "My family and I are eternally grateful.''
He also acknowledged "all who spread the word, (and) shared their hearts and thoughts through social media across the country,'' he said.
"Because of you, this reached across and beyond the U.S.,'' Anderson said. "Have no doubt that this did make a difference.''
The father urged the public to take child abduction notifications seriously.
"(In this) country, there are many missing children, and though ...
some of you might find the Amber Alert annoying, please pay attention,'' Brett Anderson said. "Keeps your eyes open. Let's bring those children home. No one should have to go through this.''
Robert Howe, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego office, made brief comments, offering condolences to the Anderson family and saying he and his colleagues were "very happy we were able to bring this to the ending that (we) did.''
"The FBI very much appreciates the law enforcement partnerships we have throughout the country and in San Diego that allow us to bring our resources to bear whenever state, local and regional resources are not enough,'' he said.
Gore declined to reveal details of what happened between the teenager and DiMaggio during the abduction and would not discuss what might have been behind the deceased suspect's apparently premeditated crimes.
"We might never know some of these answers -- I think it's important to realize (that) now,'' Gore said during the briefing.
"When you get a completely irrational act like we've seen here with two murders and a kidnapping, sometimes you're not going to be able to come up with a rational explanation of what happened.''