James DiMaggio seen fortifying hideout before FBI killed him
CASCADE, Idaho --Kidnapping suspect James Lee DiMaggio appeared to be fortifying a patch of wilderness when he was fatally shot by an FBI agent Saturday in a raid that recovered 16-year-old Hannah Anderson unharmed in the Idaho backwoods, law enforcement sources told The Times.
Authorities have released few details about how DiMaggio was killed. But sources said that before the confrontation, authorities had observed DiMaggio moving some wood and other materials around, possibly to fortify his position or make the hideout harder to see from the air.
DiMaggio and Anderson were found with some camp gear, including a blue tent, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.
Anderson was unharmed but taken to a hospital for observation. Her abductor was fatally shot by an FBI agent.
“I am nervous, excited and saddened for my wife and son and worried what my daughter has been through,” said Brett Anderson, Hannah’s father, said in a text sent to CNN. “It’s now healing time. Keep us in your prayers.”
Jennifer Willis, Hannah’s great aunt, told ABC she can’t wait to see her. “We’re waiting, waiting for Hannah to come home,” she said.
Law enforcement officials offered few other details on the shooting, and would not divulge whether there was a firefight. They did say that no law enforcement officials were hurt during the incident.
Officials said late Saturday that it could take “some time” to fully process the crime scene. A large group of local and federal investigators were on the scene.
DiMaggio, 40, was killed after he was found by an FBI search team near Morehead Lake, about 70 miles north of Boise, and just a few miles from where the two were spotted by a horseback rider Wednesday, officials said. The agent had been alerted to DiMaggio and the kidnapped teen by searchers scouring the area by plane.
“Hannah’s safe, and that’s the best outcome we were hoping for,” Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Department, said during a Sunday news briefing.
After the shooting, Hannah was helicoptered to a hospital for evaluation. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said at a news conference that she appeared to be in “pretty good shape” but gave no further details.
The killing 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. Ever since, police have been focused on Hannah, who authorities believed was abducted.
The case prompted officials in several western states to send missing-children Amber Alert text messages to the public.
“Obviously, we would have liked Mr. DiMaggio to surrender and face justice in a court of law, but that’s not going to be the case,” Gore said.
Search crews poured into this mountainous wilderness region late in the week after a pair of major breaks. First, a man riding horseback Wednesday spotted hikers believed to be the missing pair.
The witness said the man and teenage girl had a tent and backpacks, but looked out of place in the rugged terrain. The rider said nothing else seemed particularly unusual, so he continued on. “They exchanged pleasantries and he left the area thinking they were hiking and camping,” Dearden said.
Once the rider got home he found out about the Amber Alert, prompting him to contact the Idaho State Police, she said.
Then, on Friday morning, DiMaggio’s blue Nissan Versa, featured prominently in the alerts, was found at the edge of a remote trailhead. It was “the last place you can go before you hit the wilderness and stop driving,” Dearden said. The car’s license plates had been removed but authorities confirmed it was DiMaggio’s car by a check of its vehicle identification number. For a time, authorities worried that DiMaggio may have planted explosives in the car, but none were found.
The hunt focused on a roughly 300-square-mile swath of rugged terrain. A haven for wolves, bears and mountain lions, the area is so remote that some searchers had to be flown in while others rode horses.
By Saturday afternoon, roughly 200 local and federal law enforcement officers were combing the federally protected hillsides. Eventually, with air crews circling the skies, a pair of U.S. marshals in a surveillance plane spotted the campsite, DiMaggio and the teen.
DiMaggio was said to be an experienced outdoorsman who had joined the Anderson family on camping trips. Authorities say he recently purchased backpacking equipment -- a sign, they noted, that the abduction may have been planned.
The broader search began Aug. 4, when firefighters battled a house fire at DiMaggio’s home east of San Diego and eventually found the charred bodies of Hannah’s mother, 44-year-old Christiana, and the teen’s 8-year old brother, Ethan. Christiana Anderson died of blunt force trauma and may have been hit with a crowbar, a source close to the investigation told The Times.
Once the bodies were found and officials figured out that Hannah was missing, state officials began seeking the public’s help -- using for the first time in California an Amber Alert system sent through cellphones. The search quickly broadened beyond U.S. borders, to Mexico and Canada, as well as to Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Idaho.
Blankstein reported from Los Angeles, Mather from Cascade, Idaho.
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