Hannah Anderson’s first public appearance heartens supporters

Hannah Anderson made her first public appearance on Thursday, attending a fundraiser in her honor in Lakeside.

Hundreds of people came out for the fundraiser at a local restaurant throughout the day, according to Fox 5 San Diego. Supporters expressed joy when Hannah made a brief appearance this afternoon, flanked by family and friends.

She did not speak to reporters.

Speaking outside the eatery, her father, Brett Anderson, said his daughter was with family and friends and is “just happy to be here.”

“Hannah sends her love,” her father said.

Brett Anderson thanked the community for its support in both the search for his daughter and Thursday’s fundraiser. The money would go to Hannah’s “future and getting her settled,” and any extra would likely be donated, he said.

“This is how Lakeside rolls,” he said. “I just wanted to say how much we appreciate it.”


He also said that he spoke to the horseback riders whose interaction with Hannah and alleged abductor James DiMaggio ultimately led law enforcement to the remote Idaho backcountry where the girl was rescued Saturday.

“It was a wonderful thing,” Brett Anderson said. “It was a chance encounter, but it did save my daughter’s life.”

The search for Hannah began Aug. 4, when firefighters discovered the bodies of her mother and 8-year-old brother at DiMaggio’s burning home in eastern San Diego County. Investigators allege DiMaggio -- who was so close to the Anderson family that the children called him “Uncle Jim” -- asked the family to visit his Boulevard home so he could say goodbye before moving to Texas.

It was a ruse, officials said.

Search warrants released Wednesday revealed Christina Anderson and 8-year-old Ethan were “tortured and killed.” Authorities found a crowbar near the mother’s body, the documents said, with blood near her head. Ethan was found burned. The family dog was found shot to death under a sleeping bag.

The search for Hannah prompted Amber Alerts across much of the West, and narrowed to Idaho after the riders saw the two Wednesday in a rugged stretch of wilderness. Federal, state and local authorities swarmed the area about 75 miles north of Boise.

U.S. marshals spotted the pair’s campsite Saturday, and two FBI hostage teams hiked in to surround the area. Hannah was rescued safely; DiMaggio was shot and killed after authorities said he fired a rifle at least once at the agents.

At a news conference Monday, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore stated that the girl played no part in the slayings and six-day search that captivated the nation. Hannah did not even learn the fate of her mother and brother until FBI agents gunned down DiMaggio at the campsite and whisked her to safety, authorities said.


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