SAN DIEGO – The search for a double-murder suspect from Boulevard and a missing teenage girl focused Saturday on a rugged, isolated Idaho forest preserve where his car was found and where witnesses may have spotted the pair.
James Lee DiMaggio’s blue 2013 Nissan Versa was searched by sheriff’s detectives and a bomb squad, and the Ada County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho told reporters that a preliminary search turned up no explosives.
(CORRECTION: The headline of an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the suspect as Joe DiMaggio. We regret the error.)
The Versa was found, its license plates stripped and covered with brush, in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area on Friday. That came after back country horse riders spotted a man and teenaged girl matching the description of DiMaggio and the girl, Hannah Anderson, 16.
On Friday night, authorities confirmed that a badly burned body of a child found in suspect DiMaggio’s fire-gutted home off Old Highway 80 east of Pine Valley was the girl’s 8-year-old brother, Ethan Anderson.
The identity was ascertained through analysis of DNA extracted through bone marrow, according to Jan Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The boy’s remains and those of his 44-year-old mother, Christina Anderson, were found Sunday night along with a dead dog in the embers of DiMaggio’s home on Ross Avenue in Boulevard, a small settlement in the mountains 45 miles east of San Diego.
Today was the sixth day of an urgent multi-state effort to find the 40- year-old suspect, who went missing at the same time as the children, with whom he had a long-time family friendship. DiMaggio is suspected of abducting the minor after killing the boy and his mother, authorities said.
DiMaggio’s sedan was found just off a road, covered in brush and missing its license plates. Authorities were able to identify it as the suspect’s car by its vehicle identification number, the sheriff said.
Local, state and federal officers then began descending on the huge wilderness area near Cascade, Idaho, to search it by ground and air, deputies said. A bomb squad was dispatched to look into the possibility that the suspect’s car was booby-trapped.
Law enforcement officials consider DiMaggio highly dangerous and likely armed, potentially with explosives or incendiary devices. Authorities have declined to reveal why investigators believe he might have bomb-making capability and intentions.
About 150 investigators and search-and-rescue experts were combing the rugged wilderness area near Cascade for the suspect and apparent kidnapping victim.