RAW VIDEO: Horseback riders who found Hannah: It was 'one chance in a trillion'

Credit: Ryan Hilliard / KTVB

Horseback riders Mark John, Christa John, Mike Young, and Mary Young speak to media about their sighting of Hannah Anderson and James DiMaggio in the Idaho wilderness.

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by KTVB.COM, Alastair Jamieson, Tracy Connor, NBC News

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 14 at 12:40 PM

BOISE -- Teenager Hannah Anderson appeared frightened and hid her face when she and kidnapping suspect James Lee DiMaggio were spotted in the Idaho backcountry three days before authorities rescued her and killed him.

Two couples who were on horseback in the wilderness described two unsettling encounters with the 16-year-old and the 40-year-old man suspected of killing her mother and brother in San Diego a week ago.

“She kinda had a scared look of her face. I just had a gut feeling about him,” said Mike Young, who owns a ranch in Sweet, Idaho.

“They weren’t friendly and they didn’t talk,”said Mark John, a rancher and ex-sheriff.

After a manhunt that went nearly a week and began in California, a teen girl is safe after a harrowing alleged kidnapping that ended with gunfire in Idaho's wilderness. With Hannah Anderson now recovering, authorities say she will be reunited with her father. NBC's Joe Fryer reports.

The pair were first seen on a trail — and then later at the lake, where one of the horseback riders cautioned Hannah about dipping her bare feet in the fish-infested water.

"Looks like we're in real trouble now," the teen said loudly to herself as Young, John and their wives headed away from the lake and back to the trail.

That was Wednesday morning, and it wasn’t until the Youngs and Johns got home Thursday night that they learned an Amber Alert had been issued for Anderson and DiMaggio and called law enforcement.

The crossed paths — which one of the riders described as "one chance in a trillion" — led authorities to DiMaggio’s car on Friday and to his campsite on Saturday. He was killed during the rescue attempt, and Hannah was expected to be reunited with her father sometime Sunday.

"We're just so relieved," said the girl's grandmother Sara Britt outside her home in Santee, Calif.

The family said they were waiting to learn the details of Hannah's six-day ordeal.

“We don’t know what she saw or heard. Hannah is the only person who knows what happened that night,” grandfather Ralph Britt said on TODAY.

The grandmother added that joy over Hannah's recovery will now give way to mourning for her mother and brother.

"We had to put the murder of Ethan and Tina on hold in the back of our minds because we had to totally focus on Hannah," Britt said. "So now we can take the time to grieve my daughter and grandson.''

Officials suspect that DiMaggio set fire to his own house last Sunday, killing Hannah's 8-year-old brother, Ethan, and their mother, Christina Anderson, 44.

They suspect he then kidnapped Hannah, setting off a search that expanded to Canada and Mexico and saw Amber Alerts issued in several states.

After the Youngs and the Johns spotted the pair in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, federal and local law enforcement combed the wilderness. DiMaggio’s car, a Nissan Versa, was found Friday covered with brush and without license plates.

With air support and on horseback, they scoured the isolated area, dotted by only a few scattered cabins and limited cell phone service and figured out where DiMaggio was holed up.

The pair had a blue tent and other camping equipment and DiMaggio was seen moving around wood and other materials, possibly to conceal or fortify the hideout, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing law enforcement sources said.

The rescue was "very challenging,” Ada County, Idaho sheriff’s department spokeswoman Andrea Dearden said Sunday.

She told TODAY that agents were forced to land a two-and-a-half-hour hike away from where the pair's campsite had been spotted in order to secure the girl’s safety.

She declined to discuss details of the operation or whether DiMaggio had fired at agents, saying that a review team would investigate the suspect's death.

“Hannah is safe and that was our first priority from the very beginning,” said Valley County Sheriff Patty Bolen at a press conference Saturday.

Hannah's father, Brett Anderson, was "elated" his daughter was found alive, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said.

When law-enforcement told him Hannah was safe, he called the Britts and told them to come over. They made the long drive not knowing whether they would get the best or worst news.

"He said Hannah was safe and Jim was dead — then hugs, joy. We were so happy," Ralph Britt said.

Sheriff's officials told NBC San Diego that Christina Anderson, recently separated from her husband, had a “close platonic relationship” with DiMaggio. He had an “unusual infatuation” with Hannah, they said.

Marissa Chavez, 15, a friend of Hannah's, told The Associated Press that a couple of months ago she witnessed DiMaggio tell Hannah he had a crush on her and would date her if they were the same age.

“She was a little creeped out by it. She didn’t want to be alone with him,” Chavez told the AP.

Ralph Britt said the family had known DiMaggio for years and never had any inkling that he could pose a threat.

"It was just a complete shock. He was Uncle Jim," he said. "We’ve known him for years….Let it serve as a warning, that’s all we can say."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

To view the raw video of today's press conference, click the play button above. To watch it on the app, go to the video tab.

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