Hannah Anderson case: Officials ‘may never know’ DiMaggio’s motive

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore on Monday answered some key questions about 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and her relationship to kidnapping suspect James Lee DiMaggio, saying for the first time that she was held “under duress.”

Gore said that the teen’s six-day trek across several states and into the rugged Idaho wilderness was forced -- and that DiMaggio had left her in the dark about the slayings of her mother and brother. 

But many details remain unclear, including the circumstances under which she was traveling with DiMaggio before he was shot and killed by an FBI agent on Saturday.

Authorities have also yet to say what may have motivated DiMaggio to allegedly kill Christina Anderson, 44, and 8-year-old Ethan Anderson before abducting Hannah. 


In an interview with Fox 5 in San Diego, Gore said the challenge would be trying to come up with a “rational explanation for a completely irrational act. And sometimes you’ll just never know. Clearly he had severe mental problems.”

DiMaggio’s death ended a tense, multi-state manhunt that began Aug. 4, when firefighters found the bodies of Hannah’s mother and younger brother at DiMaggio’s burning home, east of San Diego.

The girl’s disappearance prompted missing-child Amber Alert text messages to the public in several Western states.

Since she was safely recovered from a remote spot near Morehead Lake about 75 miles north of Boise on Saturday, Hannah has been under observation at an undisclosed hospital, where she was said to be reunited with her father.


Her father, Brett Anderson, is scheduled to appear at a news conference in San Diego at 2:30 p.m. Monday, along with the sheriff and FBI officials. 

Gore said it was clear Hannah was “under extreme duress.”

“She was taken out of the county, out of the state, clearly against her will,” Gore said.

At least one of Hannah’s friends has said that DiMaggio had told the teen he had a crush on her, prompting early theories about the intent behind the presumed kidnapping. Those suspicions deepened amid revelations that Hannah reportedly told her friend that she was disturbed by DiMaggio’s disclosure and did not want to be alone with him.

But adding to the mystery were a series of odd encounters between the pair and a group of horseback riders in the Idaho backcountry in the days before Hannah was rescued.

One of the riders, Mike Young, told reporters Sunday that Hannah “kind of had a scared look on her face” when he and his wife first saw the pair hiking on a trail Wednesday morning.

On the morning talk-show circuit Monday, the Youngs and another couple who encountered the missing pair, Mark and Christa John, reiterated how the exchanges didn’t feel right.

“I saw a lot of fear in her eyes, and I didn’t like what I saw in his eyes,” Mike Young said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”


At the time, he said, he attributed it to her being taken off-guard by the horses.

Several hours later, around 5 p.m., the Youngs and Johns again encountered DiMaggio and Hannah, at Morehead Lake, below where they had set up their tent high on a ridge. DiMaggio was off to the side, petting a gray cat, they said.

The group attempted to engage Hannah in conversation as she soaked her feet in the lake, but she kept quiet, they said.

“They had a bad look on their face,” Mark John, a retired sheriff, said on “Good Morning America.”

He added that Hannah appeared “pretty wore out.”

“Neither one of them wanted to talk,” he said.

But at a news conference on Sunday, John recalled that when he and his companions started to ride away, he heard Hannah say, “Looks like we’re all in trouble now.”

The statement, John said, was loud enough to hear, “but it was mostly to herself.”


Though it was odd, Christa John said, some of it seemed to make sense. She said she asked DiMaggio what the two were doing in the area, and he said he picked the trip because the girl had chosen to go to Los Angeles and Hollywood the year before.

“They could be a father and daughter and he drug her along on a hiking trip,” she said. “There was no immediate, ‘Oh boy, we’ve got to rescue her.’ It was nothing like that. It was unusual, it was strange, but it was explainable.”

The group said they couldn’t tell if Hannah was being kept against her will. “The only thing I know,” Mark John said, “is if she sent us a signal expressing that she was in trouble, we certainly didn’t key in on that.”

The Johns pieced things together the next day, when they returned home and saw a news alert about the missing girl on television.


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Twitter: @katemather

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