Car in Amber Alert found; suspect, teen seen in Idaho wilderness

Credit: KING / NBC

The Amber Alert search for James DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson intensifies in Idaho, where DiMaggio's car was found in a remote wilderness area near the town of Cascade.


by KTVB, Associated Press, KING 5 News


Posted on August 8, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 10 at 10:27 AM

**Media briefing planned for 1 p.m. MT. Watch it live on KTVB and KTVB.COM.**

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego County Sheriff William Gore says a car belonging to the suspect in the disappearance of a teenage girl has been found in Idaho.

Gore also said Friday that a horseback rider reported seeing two people matching the description of the suspect and girl in the Cascade area on Wednesday morning.

Authorities throughout the West have been looking for 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and family friend James Lee DiMaggio since the bodies of the girl's mother and Hannah's missing little brother Ethan were found Sunday at DiMaggio's burned home. The San Diego Sherrif's Office confirmed the identify of the little boy's body Friday night.

Authorities have said the 40-year-old DiMaggio had what they term an "unusual infatuation" with the 16-year-old.

Gore says the vehicle identification number of the car matched the one police are looking for.  It was found near a trailhead to Morehead Lake covered by brush about six miles from Cascade at 9 a.m. Friday. The pair was spotted in the wilderness about six miles away from where the car was found. They were wearing backpacks and appeared to be camping in the area.

Concerns that DiMaggio may have booby-trapped the vehicle with explosives turned out to be unfounded after the Boise Police Bomb Squad did not find any explosive devices in or near the car during their initial search Friday afternoon.

The car is parked at the trailhead waiting for a San Diego County Sheriff's crew to arrive to process it for evidence.

Since the Amber Alert had not been activated in Idaho at the time, the rider didn't report the sighting until Wednesday evening.

"As far as we know, it didn't look like she was being held against her will," said Gore.

Gore said DiMaggio had recently bought camping equipment and investigators say evidence suggests he may have planned this, but at this point it's speculation.

Numerous officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies including the Valley County Sheriff's Office, US Marshals Office, Bureau of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Idaho Army National Guard, Idaho State Police, Ada County Sheriff's Office have converged upon the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area, which is very remote and is not easily accessible. About 100 people are searching over 300 square miles.

Officials say some will continue to search through the night, and the effort will increase Saturday as more people arrive to help.

Law enforcement teams are stationed at multiple access points around the wilderness area to monitor people coming and going from the area. 


Earlier Friday, an Amber Alert was issued in Idaho for two abducted children from California.

The first child is Hannah Anderson; she is a white female, 16 years old, 5 feet 7 inches and 115 pounds. She has blond or strawberry blond hair and blue eyes.

The second child is Ethan Anderson; he is a white male, 8 years old, 4 feet 11 inches and 65 pounds. He has sandy hair. Again, tt was later confirmed that Ethan was the unidentified body found in the burned home.

The suspect is James DiMaggio; he is a white male, 40 years old, 5 feet 9 inches and 150 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

The suspect vehicle is a blue 2000 Nissan Versa with California US plates license: 6WCU986.

They were abducted on August 5, 2013 from Boulevard, CA.

A search for a man suspected of abducting a 16-year-old girl after abandoning her mother and her younger brother in his burning house expanded on Friday to five western states, Mexico and Canada, with hundreds of tips pouring in from Oregon and Washington.

DiMaggio is considered to be very dangerous. If you do see the car or suspect, do not approach him and call 911.

Police also said evidence found in the remains of DiMaggio's house suggested he may have fled with homemade explosives.

San Diego County Sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser declined to elaborate on the nature of the evidence.

Oregon State Police fielded about 60 tips after authorities issued an Amber Alert for DiMaggio, 40, and his blue Nissan Versa. An additional eight FBI agents were assigned to a command post at San Diego sheriff's headquarters, as state and local law enforcement agencies went on alert.

"This is a pretty much an all-hands-on-deck effort. It's huge," Fraser said.

On Sunday night, authorities found the body of Hannah's mother, 44-year-old Christina Anderson, when they extinguished flames at DiMaggio's rural home. A child's body was found as they sifted through rubble in Boulevard, a tiny town 65 miles east of San Diego on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The body was later identified as 8-year-old Ethan Anderson - Christina Anderson's son and Hannah Anderson's brother.

DiMaggio, a telecommunications technician at The Scripps Research Institute, was like an uncle to 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and Ethan, and close to their parents for years.

Investigators believe DiMaggio may have had an "unusual infatuation" with Hannah, Fraser said.

"That is kind of a working theory, that it may be something of a motivator," he said. "It's definitely something that we're looking at."

Dawn MacNabb, whose son Alan was close friends with Hannah, said she told her son last Friday that the Andersons were going to visit DiMaggio at his house before he moved.

"She told him Jim was depressed, that it was his last weekend," MacNabb said.

Christina Anderson's father, Christopher Saincome, said his daughter visited DiMaggio's home to say goodbye before he moved to Texas.

DiMaggio is wanted on suspicion of murder and arson in the search that began in California and spread to Oregon, Washington, Nevada, British Columbia and Mexico's Baja California state.

If you have any information in regard to this case, please call the tip line at (208)846-7676.

Bird's eye view of the search area