CASCADE, Idaho -- The man suspected of kidnapping 16-year-old Hannah Anderson was shot and killed by an FBI agent at a remote eastern Idaho campsite Saturday in a dramatic rescue that left the girl unharmed.
James Lee DiMaggio, 40, was killed after he was found by an FBI search team near Morehead Lake, about 70 miles north of Boise, and just a few miles from where the two were spotted by a horseback rider last Wednesday, officials said. The agent had been alerted to DiMaggio and the kidnapped teen by searchers scouring the area by plane.
“Hannah’s safe, and that’s the best outcome we were hoping for,” Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Department, said during a Sunday news briefing.
“I am nervous, excited and saddened for my wife and son and worried what my daughter has been through,” said Brett Anderson, Hannah’s father, in a text sent to CNN. “It’s now healing time. Keep us in your prayers.”
After the shooting, Hannah was helicoptered to a local hospital for evaluation. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said at a news conference that she appeared to be in “pretty good shape” but gave no further details.
Law enforcement officials offered few other details on the shooting, and would not divulge whether there was a firefight.
The killing ended a tense, multi-state manhunt that began Aug. 4, when firefighters found the charred bodies of Hannah’s mother and younger brother in the garage of DiMaggio’s burning home, east of San Diego. Ever since, police have been focused on Hannah, who authorities believed was abducted.
The case prompted officials in several Western states to send missing children Amber Alert text messages to the public.
“Obviously, we would have liked Mr. DiMaggio to surrender and face justice in a court of law, but that’s not going to be the case,” Gore said.
Search crews pored into this mountainous wilderness region late in the week, following a pair of major breaks. First, a man riding horseback on Wednesday spotted hikers believed to be the missing pair.
The witness said the man and teenage girl had a tent and backpacks, but looked out of place in the rugged terrain. The rider said nothing else seemed particularly unusual, so he continued on. “They exchanged pleasantries and he left the area thinking they were hiking and camping,” Dearden said.
Once the rider got home he found out about the Amber Alert, prompting him to contact the Idaho State Police, she said.
Then, on Friday morning, DiMaggio’s blue Nissan Versa, featured prominently in the alerts, was found at the edge of a remote trailhead. It was “the last place you can go before you hit the wilderness and stop driving,” Dearden said. The car’s license plates had been removed but authorities confirmed it was DiMaggio’s car by a check of its vehicle identification number. For a time, authorities worried that DiMaggio may have planted explosives in the car, but none were found.
The hunt focused on a roughly 300-square-mile swath of rugged terrain. A haven for wolves, bears and mountain lions, the area is so remote that some searchers had to be flown in while others engaged in the hunt on horseback.
By Saturday afternoon, roughly 200 local and federal law enforcement officers were combing the federally protected hillsides. Eventually, with air crews circling the skies, a pair of U.S. Marshalls in a surveillance plane spotted the campsite, DiMaggio and the teen.
DiMaggio was said to be an experienced outdoorsman who had joined the family on camping trips. Authorities say he recently purchased backpacking equipment -- a sign, they noted, that the abduction may have been planned.
The broader search began last Sunday, when firefighters battled a fully-engulfed house fire at DiMaggio’s home east of San Diego and eventually found the charred bodies of Hannah’s mother, 44-year-old Christiana, and the teen’s 8-year old brother, Ethan. Christiana Anderson died of blunt force trauma and may have been hit with a crowbar, a source close to the investigation told The Times.
Once the bodies were found and officials figured out that Hannah was missing, state officials began seeking the public's help -- using for the first time in California an Amber Alert system sent through cell phones. The search quickly broadened beyond U.S. borders, to Mexico and Canada, as well as to Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Idaho.
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