Law enforcement officials got a huge break in the Amber Alert search for missing 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and her alleged kidnapper, James Lee DiMaggio, when his car was found in a remote wilderness area of Idaho.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore confirmed at a news conference Friday morning that the vehicle found in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Valley County matched the vehicle identification number of the blue Nissan Versa belonging to DiMaggio.
The vehicle was found about 8 a.m. Friday and was covered in brush, Gore said. The license plates had been removed.
Authorities searched the area after receiving information from a group of horseback riders who "came across" a man and girl they thought could be DiMaggio and missing teenager Hannah Anderson, Gore said. The group spoke to the pair briefly Wednesday morning, but didn't realize the girl was missing.
When the group returned late Wednesday and saw the news, Gore said, they contacted local law enforcement officials.
The horseback riders relayed to officials that the man and girl had backpacks and a tent, and "appeared to be in good health," Gore said. Gore said authorities were unable to determine whether the teen "was being held against her will."
"They did seem to think the two of them were out of place in the area with the light camping equipment they had," Gore said. "It is very rugged terrain."
Federal, state and local authorities were swarming the rough, rugged terrain, which local officials said would require teams on horseback and in helicopters to help search.
"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.
DiMaggio is believed by authorities to have abducted the teenager Sunday after allegedly killing her mother and 8-year-old brother in Boulevard, a rural border town in eastern San Diego County, and setting his house on fire.
DiMaggio has been described as a close friend of the Anderson family, but his relationship to Hannah is unclear. He was described by authorities and neighbors as an outdoorsman.
An Amber Alert was issued in California and later extended to Oregon, Washington and Nevada. On Friday morning, it was activated in Idaho.