Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 9 updates

SAN DIEGO — Federal agents who fatally shot a kidnapping and double-murder suspect in an Idaho wilderness preserve last summer after finding him there with a missing Lakeside high school girl acted within the law and will face no criminal charges over his death, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Two members of an FBI hostage-rescue team opened fire on James Lee DiMaggio, 40, from about 100 yards away after he fired two rounds from a rifle in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area while they were moving in to arrest him last Aug. 10.

DiMaggio’s captive, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson, was unharmed.

The personnel had tracked DiMaggio and the El Capitan High School student to the remote locale about 40 miles from Cascade based on tips from a group of horseback riders who’d spotted the suspect and abducted teen.

Hannah had gone missing a week earlier. The day after she disappeared, a fire that authorities later determined had been started with time-delay incendiary devices burned down DiMaggio’s home in rural southeastern San Diego County.

Firefighters found the bodies of Hannah’s mother, 44-year-old Christina Anderson, and 8-year-old brother, Ethan, in the burned out log cabin-style house and a garage.

Hannah was unaware that her mother and brother had died until after her rescue, according to sheriff’s officials.

All evidence surrounding the death of DiMaggio indicated that the agents who shot him acted in self-defense and were legally justified in doing so, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Valley County, Idaho, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The officers believed DiMaggio was shooting toward them when they opened fire, according to a joint statement issued by the agencies.

According to friends of the Andersons, DiMaggio, a longtime close friend of theirs, seemed to have developed an infatuation with the teen prior to the kidnapping and murders.

Known as “Uncle Jim” to Hannah and her brother, DiMaggio frequently helped the children’s mother with the children after their father took a job out of state.

According to search-warrant records, Hannah exchanged 13 text messages with DiMaggio on the day of her abduction. Hannah said in a television interview that the communications were about where he could pick her up from cheerleading camp that day.

SAN DIEGO – James Lee DiMaggio, the Boulevard man who abducted 16-year-old Hannah Anderson, had drugs in his system when FBI agents shot and killed him in Idaho’s backcountry, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

Hannah-Anderson,-James-Lee-DiMaggioThe Valley County Coroner Nathan Hess told Fox5 that DiMaggio tested positive for legal prescription drugs and THC, the main mind-altering ingredient found in cannabis plants.

Hess did not elaborate on what types of prescription drugs were found in his system.

FBI agents shot DiMaggio at least five times when they found him with Anderson in the Idaho wilderness on August 10.  He died at the scene, Hess said.

DiMaggio, who is also suspected of killing Hannah’s mother and 8-year-old brother before fleeing San Diego County, was armed with at least one weapon when an FBI tactical team moved in on his campsite near Morehead Lake 75 miles north of Boise, Idaho on Saturday.

DiMaggio’s body was cremated, said Cathy Griffin, a spokeswoman for the DiMaggio family.

Hannah-Anderson,-James-Lee-DiMaggioNEW YORK (CNN) — Two months after a nationwide manhunt helped authorities track down kidnapped California teen Hannah Anderson, she’s revealing new details about her conversations with the man who allegedly held her hostage and killed her mother and brother.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show broadcast Thursday morning, Anderson described the moment she says she realized family friend James DiMaggio was kidnapping her in early August. He had just picked her up from cheerleading practice and took her to his home about an hour east of San Diego — apparently, she said she’d eventually learn, with her mom and brother hidden somewhere inside.

Anderson says DiMaggio sat her down on a couch, handcuffed her, zip-tied her feet and revealed his plan to kidnap her and drive her to Idaho. The day quickly took an even darker turn, Anderson said, when DiMaggio encouraged her to play Russian roulette with him, using a real gun.

“When it was my turn, I started crying and, like, was freaking out,” Anderson said. “And he said, ‘Do you want to play?’ And I said, ‘No,’ and I started crying, and he’s like, ‘OK,’ and he stopped.”

Anderson said DiMaggio told her that her mother, Christina Anderson, 42, and her brother Ethan, 8, were elsewhere in the house, alive.

Anderson, 16, said that she could hear Ethan.

“I heard him trying to yell upstairs, but he was gagged, so I couldn’t do anything to help him,” Anderson said. “I was yelling his name. I couldn’t do anything.”

She said after about two to three hours, DiMaggio drugged her — with Ambien, she thinks — and when she woke up, she found herself in Idaho with him.

That’s when he told her, she said, that her mother and Ethan still were in the house’s garage, and that he had set a timer that would ignite a fire at the home, many hours after DiMaggio and Anderson had left.

DiMaggio told her that he had left signs that would indicate to responding firefighters — before the fire reached the garage — where Christina Anderson and Ethan were, Hannah Anderson told “Today.”

Authorities would eventually find the remains of Christina Anderson in the burned garage and Ethan’s body in another part of the home. Christina Anderson was struck at least 12 times in the head; her right arm and both legs were fractured, and she had a cut on her neck, an autopsy revealed.

The woman’s ankles were bound by a plastic cable tie, and duct tape was wrapped around her neck and mouth, her autopsy report said.

Ethan was burned beyond recognition. It was believed, according to the autopsy, that the boy died because of the fire.

After evading authorities for a week, horseback riders spotted DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson in the Idaho wilderness, nearly 1,000 miles from where the alleged kidnapping occurred.

Anderson said DiMaggio told her he’d kill the riders if she spoke to them. DiMaggio spoke to them, and they left, she said.

But those riders, feeling something was amiss and learning that an Amber Alert had been issued, contacted authorities.

When law enforcement teams closed in on the two August 10, DiMaggio was shot dead by an FBI agent and Anderson was taken to a hospital.

Recalling the moments before the shooting, Anderson told “Today” that she and DiMaggio were by a fire, which she said he’d set in an effort to signal for help. She didn’t say why he was trying to signal for assistance.

She said she told him that she’d read in a book that firing a gun three times in the air also was a signal for help. So, she said, Anderson fired a gun once in the air, and then a second time — but with a lowered aim.

“Then a bunch of guns went off. I looked and he fell on the ground,” she said. “I kind of looked over, and I was like, ‘Are you OK?’ And then a bunch of, like, the FBI people came out, telling me to get down.”

Anderson said she was told the next day, in the hospital, that her mother, her brother and DiMaggio were dead.

With tears, Anderson said she greatly missed her mother and brother.

“Sometimes it’s like I wait for them to get home, and then they’re not there,” she said.

The nationwide manhunt for DiMaggio drew widespread attention and sparked intense speculation about the case.

Now, the author of a new book is criticizing the teen’s behavior and claiming there are inconsistencies in her story, CNN affiliate KGTV reported. An Anderson family spokeswoman told CNN the family has no comment on the book.

Addressing letters between Anderson and DiMaggio that authorities found in his burned home, Anderson told “Today” that she had been writing to DiMaggio, a family friend, because her mother and father had split up.

“Me and my mom really didn’t get along a year ago, so when I was having problems with her and I wouldn’t have really anyone to talk about it with, me and him, instead of talking face to face if we didn’t have time … we’d just write letters back and forth, talking about, like, the situation and how to get through it,” she said.

Her father, Brett Anderson, told “Today” that he and his daughter are working through the ordeal.

“We’re getting help and talking with each other and trying to be strong (and) moving forward,” he said.

SAN DIEGO — In a televised interview slated to air Thursday, 16-year-old Lakeside kidnapping victim Hannah Anderson revealed more details about what she endured at the hands of a family friend-turned-tormentor.

Hannah-Anderson,-James-Lee-DiMaggioAmong the abuse inflicted on the El Capitan High School junior by Boulevard resident James Lee DiMaggio two months ago was a forcible game of Russian roulette with a gun he was wielding, Hannah told “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie.

“When it was my turn, I started crying and, like, was freaking out,” she said. “And he said, `Do you want to play?’ And I said, `No.’ And I started crying, and then he’s, like, `OK.’ And he stopped.”

In a preview of the interview released Tuesday, the NBC morning news program quotes Hannah as saying DiMaggio — whom she had known her entire life and thought of as an uncle — put his kidnapping plan into motion after driving her to his back-country home on Aug. 3.

“When I got into the house, he handcuffed me and zip-tied my feet and then sat me down on the couch and told me what his plan was,” she told Guthrie. “He told me he was going to kidnap me and take me to Idaho, where my (task) was just to carry his backpacks to the river, and that he was gonna live there. And then he’d get me home afterwards.”

DiMaggio told her that her mother, 44-year-old Christina Anderson, and 8- year-old brother, Ethan, also were in his log cabin-style residence and unharmed, Hannah said.

In truth, the 40-year-old DiMaggio already had killed them and rigged his house and garage to explode into flames, according to investigators. Firefighters found their badly burned bodies in the embers of the buildings the next day.

A weeklong nationwide search then commenced for Hannah. On Aug. 10, authorities tracked her and the suspect down in an Idaho wilderness preserve, where DiMaggio was killed in a shootout with FBI agents.

Hannah told Guthrie she was “sick” and “disgusted” whenever thinking about DiMaggio, and that she feels he ultimately got what he deserved.

The girl said the intensive search that led to the suspect’s death and her rescue not only saved her life, but also had aided in her recovery.

“It helped me keep going through healing, knowing that people were looking for me and that they’re on my side,” she told Guthrie.

SAN DIEGO – A controversial book expected to be released next month raises questions about the relationship between 16-year-old Lakeside kidnapping victim Hannah Anderson and her abductor James Lee Dimaggio.

“The River Of No Return” takes a look at the El Capitan High School junior’s behavior after she was rescued from the backcountry of Idaho.


Hannah Anderson arrives at fundraiser

A weeklong multi-state search for Anderson began on August 4 following an explosion at 40-year-old Dimaggio’s house and garage in Boulevard, where firefighters discovered the badly burned bodies later identified as her mother 44-year-old Christina Anderson and 8-year-old brother Ethan.

On Aug. 10, authorities tracked her and the suspect – whom she had known her entire life and thought of as an uncle – down in an Idaho wilderness preserve, where DiMaggio was killed in a shootout with FBI agents.

Author and criminal analyst Chelsea Hoffman said her book reveals suspicious inconsistencies that call into question what really happened during the days of the multi-state Amber Alert.

“Her mother was murdered. Her brother was murdered. Her dog was murdered. Nobody was left alive,” Hoffman told Fox5. “Up until that point all that we were left to believe was that James Lee Dimaggio was a madman, who had an unhealthy infatuation with his best friend’s daughter.”

Hoffman said the public hasn’t received the entire story and Anderson has a lot more explaining to do.

“It wasn’t until her behavior after the rescue that I became suspicious,” Hoffman said, claiming there are inconsistencies in the teen’s story.

“The four horseback riders made statements that Hannah didn’t appear to be there against her will,” she said. “She shows up to a carwash fundraiser wearing a brace on one leg and on that same exact day she’s wearing the brace on a different leg.”

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore has cleared Hannah of involvement in any crime.

The book is expected out November 2.

(CNN) — A few weeks before James DiMaggio allegedly kidnapped Hannah Anderson, his sister said she told him that the 16-year-old girl was “trouble” and that he needed to “watch out.”

In a sometimes contentious interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan on Tuesday night, Lora DiMaggio held out the possibly that her brother was a victim, saying there were “a lot of holes” in the case.

Sister, Lora DiMaggio“It’s very hard to believe that someone who was just so genuine and so dependable every single solitary day just woke up one day and decided to do this,” she said.

Instead, she cast doubt on Anderson.

“I remember very vividly telling my brother, ‘She’s trouble,'” she said. “I said, ‘You need to watch out for that one.'”

James DiMaggio allegedly kidnapped Hannah on August 4. Police later found the bodies of her mother and brother at his burned home, about an hour east of San Diego.

A police affidavit claims that mother Christina Anderson and brother Ethan had been “tortured and killed” by James DiMaggio before he set his home and garage ablaze.

After evading authorities for a week, he was spotted in the Idaho wilderness on August 10, nearly 1,000 miles from where the alleged kidnapping occurred.

An FBI agent shot him dead, and Hannah was returned to her family in Southern California.

Lora DiMaggio maintained that, despite the evidence presented by police, it wasn’t clear her brother had done anything wrong

“The only evidence that has come forward at this point is the fact the two bodies were found on his property,” she said. “There’s a lot of missing information. I have yet to see any solid evidence.”

Read more at CNN

Ethan Anderson and his mother, Christina, were eulogized today as a boy “full of spirit” and a mother “devoted to her children.”

The 44-year-old woman and 8-year-old child were memorialized at a public funeral mass at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Santee. They were murdered by a family friend, James Lee DiMaggio, who also reportedly kidnapped Hannah Anderson, 16, and who was killed by a police sharpshooter in an Idaho forest.

David Braun, who is Christina’s uncle,  said people “just wanted to be Ethan’s buddy,” adding his mother, nicknamed “Tiny Tina,” was “always ready to help out if you needed a friend or a favor.”

Braun was the only family member to speak at the funeral mass, which was attended by Hannah Anderson. Hannah Anderson and her father, Brett Anderson, sat in the front of the church along with family members during today’s service.

The bodies of Christina and Ethan Anderson were found inside the burned-out home in rural Boulevard belonging to the suspect DiMaggio on Aug. 4. Authorities believed DiMaggio had abducted Hannah the day before.

Authorities eventually found Hannah and DiMaggio — whom she and Ethan had known their entire lives — in a remote area in Idaho after a group of horseback riders spotted them in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.

DiMaggio was killed in a shootout with a federal hostage-rescue team in the forest preserve about 80 miles northeast of Boise, Idaho on the afternoon of Aug. 10.

Hannah was unharmed, and was told of the deaths of her mother and brother after being rescued.

Hannah Anderson defended her use of social media in the days following her kidnapping and rescue, saying in her first interview after her rescue that sending and receiving the online postings “just helps me grieve.”

The San Diego County 16-year-old’s first comments about her ordeal came in an interview with NBC that aired in two parts Thursday morning on the “Today” show. In the second segment, she addressed those who have criticized her recent online activity.

hannahAnderson“I didn’t know people could be so cruel,” she said.

She said social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram — where she has recently posted photos and comments — helped her connect with friends and cope with what happened.

“It just helps me grieve, like, post pictures to show how I’m feeling,” she said. “I’m a teenager. I’m gonna go on it.”

She said the online messages she has received were “a little overwhelming” but that “it also felt good to know that people prayed for me.”

The multi-state search for Hannah began Aug. 4 after her mother and brother were found dead at family friend James DiMaggio’s burning property in eastern San Diego County. Authorities allege that DiMaggio killed Christina and Ethan Anderson before kidnapping Hannah and taking her to a remote stretch of Idaho wilderness.

After a group of horseback riders reported seeing the two near Morehead Lake, roughly 75 miles north of Boise, FBI agents raided the camp on Aug. 10. Hannah was rescued safely; DiMaggio was shot and killed.

Though officials have stressed that Hannah was a “victim in every sense of the word,” she has drawn scrutiny and criticism in the days following her rescue. When asked about some of the comments posted about her online, the teenager said, “They don’t really know the story, so they kind of have their own opinion on what they hear.”

“You are who you are, and you shouldn’t let people change that,” she said later. “You have your own opinion on yourself and other peoples’ opinion shouldn’t matter.”

She also spoke about her communications with DiMaggio, discussing phone calls and letters detailed in search warrants released last week. The documents indicated the two called each other about 13 times before their phones were shut off, and revealed that investigators found letters from Hannah at DiMaggio’s home — both of which raised questions about their relationship.

Hannah said the calls were “just texts” to let DiMaggio know where to pick her up from cheer practice.

“The phone calls weren’t phone calls,” she said. “He didn’t know the address or where I was.”

Read more of Kate Mather and Samantha Schaefer’s story at

The family of Hannah Anderson responded Wednesday to suggestions that the man who kidnapped the Lakeside teenager may have been her biological father, saying her parents met James DiMaggio when her mother was pregnant.


Brett Anderson talks to media about missing kids.

Stacy Hess, a spokeswoman for the Anderson family, released a statement to The Times via email.

“Brett and Tina Anderson met Mr. DiMaggio when Tina was in her sixth month of pregnancy with Hannah,” the statement said. “Brett Anderson’s DNA was used to identify the body of his dead son Ethan Anderson.”

The comments came after reports surfaced that DiMaggio’s sister was seeking a paternity test to determine if her brother was the biological father of 16-year-old Hannah or 8-year-old Ethan, whose body — along with his mother’s — was found in DiMaggio’s charred home earlier this month.

Andrew Spanswick, a spokesman for the DiMaggio family, said Lora Robinson had asked the coroner for DNA samples as part of her effort to “get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

“There were rumors that were circulating and she got wrapped up in the rumors,” Spanswick said. “She doesn’t know one way or the other. It’s a question that’s out there.”

Spanswick said Robinson was “not trying to cause any more pain for the Anderson family” but that she’s trying to determine what the motive behind her brother’s actions might have been. She has also asked authorities to examine some of the evidence, he said, including DiMaggio’s gun, a photo of DiMaggio and Hannah taken at a Border Patrol checkpoint, and letters from the teenager found at his home.

“We’d just like some more information,” Spanswick said. “It just doesn’t add up.”

The development was the latest in a series of new details trickling out of the case, which began Aug. 4 when the bodies of Hannah’s mother and brother were found at DiMaggio’s burning property in eastern San Diego County. The search — which triggered Amber Alerts across much of the West — ended six days later, when FBI agents found Hannah and DiMaggio at a campsite in a stretch of rural Idaho back \country.