SAN DIEGO -- Hannah Anderson’s mother and brother were “tortured and killed” before the 16-year-old San Diego County teen was abducted from cheerleading practice, according to search warrants released Wednesday.
Authorities did not elaborate on how the torture was carried out, but the warrants reveal some gruesome details of what investigators discovered when they responded to a fire at suspect James Lee DiMaggio’s home.
Authorities found a crowbar near Christina Anderson’s body, with blood near her head. The body of Hannah’s brother, Ethan, was found burned. The family dog was found shot to death under a sleeping bag.
The warrants shed light on the Anderson family’s relationship with DiMaggio, a 40-year-old telecommunications technician, who the children called Uncle Jim. Hannah’s mom was described in one search warrant as DiMaggio’s “best friend’s wife.”
On the night of Aug. 4, investigators said, DiMaggio set up a trap by asking the family to come to his home in Boulevard, about 50 miles east of San Diego, so he could say goodbye before he moved to Texas.
Although sheriff’s officials declined to state whether Hannah went with DiMaggio willingly during the early stages of the search, the search warrants clearly spell out that they feared she was in “grave” danger.
At a news conference on Monday, 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 his campsite in the Idaho wilderness and whisked her to safety, authorities said.
The warrants also revealed that investigators had requested information on two phone numbers as they probed the possibility that co-conspirators were aiding DiMaggio. His phone had apparently exchanged an unusually large number of calls the day of the abduction and house fire, including 13 with Hannah.
As part of their search, investigators seized cameras, computer equipment, photos and other items from his sprawling property near the Mexican border.