Hannah Anderson ‘a victim in every sense,’ sheriff says

SAN DIEGO -- Law enforcement interviews with 16-year-old Hannah Anderson made it “very clear” that she is “a victim in every sense of the word,” San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

The girl is “doing as well as can be expected” for someone who was kidnapped and held for days against her will “from the time she left Boulevard to the time she was recovered in Lake Morehead,” Idaho, Gore said.

The girl only learned that James Lee DiMaggio, killed Saturday by law enforcement, is believed to have slain her mother and 8-year-old brother after Hannah was rescued and recovering in the hospital, Gore said.


“Everybody, the FBI, our investigators, everybody are convinced that there is no way she was anything but the worst kind of victim in this,” Gore said in an interview with The Times.

Gore also spoke at a press conference Monday afternoon alongside Hannah’s father and FBI officials.

Brett Anderson thanked the public and media for their vigilance during the six days Hannah was missing. He also thanked the four horseback riders who spotted Hannah and DiMaggio in the Idaho wilderness, which ultimately became the key tip that helped crack the case.

“Without you, who knows how long this would have gone on,” he said.

He then asked the media to give the family time to grieve and move on with the healing process.

“As for my daughter, the healing process will be slow. She has been through a tremendous, horrific ordeal,” he said.

Hannah has returned to San Diego County with family and is undergoing counseling, Gore said.

Gore declined to reveal many more details of her abduction, saying only that it was “under extreme duress.” He told The Times there were “extensive threats” and a weapon.

He also did not elaborate on earlier statements from authorities, who said they believe DiMaggio’s crime spree was planned.

Gore said only that he does not believe it was “spur of the moment.”

In an interview, Gore said he believes DiMaggio shielded Hannah from the killings of her mother and brother by keeping her in one area of the property where she couldn’t see everything.

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 in the community of Boulevard, east of San Diego.

The girl’s disappearance prompted missing-child Amber Alert text messages to the public in several Western states. It was the first time in California that a statewide Amber Alert was sent by text messages to almost all cellphone users.

FBI officials said they are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of DiMaggio in Idaho. DiMaggio fired at least once, although they declined to say whether he fired the first shot.

Gore said investigators may never know what prompted DiMaggio’s alleged crimes.

“Frequently when these terrible acts occur, these horrible crimes, with the subject dead, you just can’t come up with a motive,” Gore said. “Everybody wants a rational explanation for an irrational act, but you just can’t find one.”


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