SAN DIEGO - The body found inside a burned-out home in rural Boulevard has been identified as 8-year-old Ethan Anderson, the brother of the teenage girl thought to have been kidnapped by a family friend suspected of killing the mother of both children.
The body was identified by a DNA analysis extracted through bone marrow, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said Friday night.
The boy's sister, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson, is thought to have been kidnapped by James DiMaggio, 40.
DiMaggio is being sought on suspicion of killing Ethan and his mother, Christina Anderson, 44, before setting his home on fire in eastern San Diego County. The bodies were discovered Sunday when firefighters responded to the blaze.
The boy's body was found inside the home. His mother's body was found in a garage on the property. Ethan's body was burned so badly that positive identification was difficult, officials said.
DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson are thought by law enforcement to be trekking in a heavily wooded area of Idaho near where DiMaggio's car was found Friday. The two were spotted Wednesday by horseback riders.
DiMaggio, a telecommunications technician with Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, may have lured the family from their home in Lakeside to his home in Boulevard by telling them that he wanted to say goodbye before moving to Texas.
After the children's father, Brett Anderson, had separated from their mother, James DiMaggio befriended the family. The children called him "Uncle Jim."
The identification of the body as that of Ethan Anderson was not unexpected. In pleading with DiMaggio, Brett Anderson had mentioned Hannah but not Ethan.
"Let her go," Brett Anderson said, "you've taken everything else."
A massive law enforcement search is being organized in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area in Valley County where DiMaggio's Nissan Versa was found. Investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department are joining in the search.
A group of horseback riders told local authorities they had spoken to two people believed to be DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson. The riders came across the pair Wednesday morning but said it was not until they returned later that day that they realized the girl may have been Anderson.
The riders said the man and girl had a tent and backpacks but looked out of place in the rugged terrain because they had only light camping equipment, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.
They said the girl appeared to be well, Gore added. "I'm very confident and I think we should all be optimistic that she appeared to be in somewhat good health and alive on Wednesday," Gore said.
Authorities found the car Friday "just off a road," covered in brush, Gore said. Its license plates had been removed, but it was identified using the vehicle identification number, he said.
Authorities planned to use bomb and arson technicians to search the vehicle to ensure it was safe, he said. Earlier this week, sheriff's officials warned that the car might be rigged with explosives.
An Amber Alert had been broadcast in several states in hopes that someone would spot the Nissan and alert law enforcement.
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