Hannah Anderson talks DiMaggio letters, criticism in first interview
Nearly two weeks after FBI agents rescued her from the Idaho wilderness, San Diego County teenager Hannah Anderson gave her first interview, thanking those who helped find her and dismissing others who have criticized her online.
The first segment of the 16-year-old’s interview with NBC aired Thursday morning at the top of the “Today” show. Hannah, who officials say was kidnapped by family friend James DiMaggio after he killed her mother and 8-year-old brother, said if it wasn’t for the group of horseback riders who spotted her in the Idaho wilderness, “I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”
The search for Hannah began Aug. 4 after her mother and brother were found dead at DiMaggio’s burning property in eastern San Diego County, and ended six days later at a remote campsite more than 1,000 miles away.
After the horseback riders reported seeing the two near Idaho’s Morehead Lake, FBI agents raided the camp and whisked Hannah to safety. DiMaggio was shot and killed.
Though officials have stressed that Hannah was a “victim in every sense of the word,” she has drawn scrutiny and criticism in the days following her rescue. When asked about some of the comments posted about her online, the teenager said, “They don’t really know the story, so they kind of have their own opinion on what they hear.”
“You are who you are and you shouldn’t let people change that,” she said later. “You have your own opinion on yourself and other peoples’ opinion shouldn’t matter.”
The teen also spoke of letters she wrote to DiMaggio that, according to search warrants, were among the items seized from his home. Authorities have not detailed what the letters said, or the contents of a handwritten note also taken from his property.
Hannah said the letters were from a year ago, when she and her mother weren’t getting along.
“They weren’t anything bad,” she said. “They were just to help me through times.”
Hannah said that before her ordeal, she had never heard of the Amber Alert credited with her rescue.
“I didn’t really know what it is, but I know it helped people find me,” she said.
She expressed thanks for “the Amber Alert and the sheriff and the FBI ... everyone that put in their time to find me.”
“And my dad,” she continued. “And my friends and my family and all my supporters that helped spread the word.”
Hannah wiped away tears as she remembered her 8-year-old brother Ethan, saying he “had a really big heart.” Her mother, she said, was “strong-hearted and very tough” and “knew how to handle things.”
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