Amber Alert suspect may have booby-trapped car, switched vehicles

Amber Alert
Drivers pass a display in San Diego showing an Amber Alert, asking motorists to be on the lookout for a vehicle.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

James Lee DiMaggio -- the focus of a four-state Amber Alert who is suspected of killing two people and abducting a 16-year-old girl -- may have abandoned his blue Nissan Versa and left it booby-trapped with explosives, authorities said.

San Diego County sheriff’s officials warned anyone who encounters the suspect’s car to stay away because it may be dangerous.

As the Amber Alert widened to Nevada, authorities also said DiMaggio may have changed vehicles.

Authorities believe DiMaggio killed Christina Anderson, 44, and her 8-year-old son Ethan. Christina Anderson’s body was found in the garage of DiMaggio’s home in eastern San Diego County.


A source familiar with the investigation said she died of blunt force and may have been killed with a crowbar. A child’s body was also found, but it was badly burned, and a positive identification may not be finalized for days. Members of the Anderson family have said they believe the body was Ethan’s.

Hannah Anderson, 16, remains missing.

Even though numerous tips have poured in to law enforcement agencies in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said there have been no confirmed sightings.

“Basically the search area is the United States, Canada and Mexico,” Giannantonio said. “Basically the search area is North America.”


DiMaggio is an avid outdoorsman and Giannantonio said authorities are also urging people to be on the lookout at campsites and other open areas.

An arrest warrant for murder has been issued for DiMaggio, and a judge has signed off on setting bail at $1 million in the event of his arrest, San Diego County sheriff’s officials said Thursday.

On Thursday morning, “PRAY 4 HANNAH” was spelled out in pink plastic cups on a chain-link fence surrounding the teen’s school, El Capitan High in Lakeside.  A  handful of signs had also been left.

“Pray for the Andersons,” one read.

On it, someone penned a message: “Hope you come home safe! God is with you Hannah! God will bring you back, I know it!”

DiMaggio, who works as a telecommunications technician at Scripps Institute in San Diego, has been described by authorities as a close family friend whom the Anderson children called “Uncle Jim.”

DiMaggio’s neighbor, Mary Momberg, said her 10-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter were friends with the Andersons, and would visit when the children were at DiMaggio’s. She wiped away tears as she spoke about his alleged crimes on her front step Wednesday.

Her son was the first to spot the flames at DiMaggio’s home Sunday evening: “He looked out the window and said, ‘Jim’s house is on fire.’”


Momberg dialed 911 and watched as the flames ate up DiMaggio’s home. “It was unbelievable,” she said.

She said she met DiMaggio after he moved into the neighborhood a couple of years ago, after her son met the Andersons and asked if he could play with them at DiMaggio’s home. DiMaggio installed a play set when he first moved in, she said -- something she thought was odd until she saw the children.

Momberg said her son was “more in disbelief” at the news.

“He said, ‘It couldn’t be Jim. Jim couldn’t do something like that,’” she said.

Sheila Haskett, 85, said she’s been unsettled by all the activity in the neighborhood, first the fire, then authorities working around the clock, shining bright floodlights as they sifted through the ashes.

“I’ll be glad if they get him,” she said, as CNN and news of the manhunt played in the background. “I’m a little bit shaky.”


Dead stranger found in backyard pool in Arcadia


Family escapes raging Silver fire as their home and pets burn

Amber Alert extended to Nevada for missing girl, slaying suspect 

Twitter: @katemather


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