DiMaggio suspected of setting two fires before kidnapping teen

Within hours of finding a burned-out house and garage in rural Boulevard, investigators suspected the owner, James DiMaggio, of setting separate blazes, possibly with timing devices, according to search warrants made public Thursday.

The fires on the property in eastern San Diego County were discovered late in the afternoon of Aug. 4. By 4 a.m. Monday, investigators with expertise in arson were seeking a search warrant to investigate the rubble.

The fires were set separately, possibly with accelerant, arson specialists said in seeking the warrant. The one fire could not have migrated to the other location, they said.


Once the warrants were issued by a Superior Court judge, investigators found what is called an “arson wire” that times a fire to erupt.

Also found were empty boxes of ammunition, camping gear, a camping map of Yosemite, and a note whose contents were not disclosed, according to the search warrant.

Other warrants suggest that by the time the structures exploded in flames, 40-year-old DiMaggio had already kidnapped 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and was speeding northward in his blue Nissan, using death threats to keep her from trying to escape.

In the burned-out buildings, investigators found Hannah’s mother, Christina, 44, and her 8-year-old brother Ethan. DiMaggio, a family friend known as Uncle Jim, was immediately suspected of killing both family members before kidnapping Hannah, who was at cheerleading practice.

DiMaggio and Hannah were found in the deep forest of southern Idaho on Aug. 10, six days after the fires. DiMaggio fired once, possibly twice, at FBI agents sent to rescue the teen.

The agents returned fire, killing DiMaggio. Only when Hannah was interviewed by the FBI did she learn that her mother, brother and her dog had been killed.

Hannah has been reunited with her father, Brett Anderson, at the family home in Lakeside.


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Twitter: @LATsandiego