Hannah Anderson was rescued by elite FBI agents, who shot dead the captor who killed her family and burned their bodies. Now, nearly two years later, the FBI has opened up their files on the wilderness manhunt for the man who attacked the Anderson family and fled into the backcountry.
Nearly two years ago, Hannah Anderson, 16 at the time, was kidnapped by a family friend who picked her up from school before fleeing the state. James DiMaggio had a crush on Anderson, according to police reports. Before taking the teenager captive, DiMaggio killed her mother and brother and burned their bodies inside his Boulevard, California home, FBI reports conclude.
One week after the Hannah Anderson kidnapping, horseback riders spotted the teenager and James DiMaggio camping deep in the Idaho wilderness — with DiMaggio’s gray cat. The horseback riders immediately made contact with the local law enforcement agency and reported the spotting.
The FBI footage of the minutes before agents swarmed the campsite and rescued Hannah Anderson illustrate how the deadly encounter unfolded. DiMaggio opened fired at the FBI agents, with the law enforcement officers squeezing off rounds of return fire and killing the suspect in the process.
During an interview with ABC News, FBI representatives detailed how agents tracked down Anderson. The search for the missing teenager began on August 4, 2013. Law enforcement officers started looking for her after her mother, Christina Anderson, 44, and brother, Ethan, 8, were found “burned beyond recognition” inside James DiMaggio’s home. Authorities issued an Amber Alert but had little to go on because neither was carrying a cell phone that could be tracked.
But after a week of searching, a group of horseback riders in the Idaho wilderness near Cascade contacted the county sheriff to report that they had seen a man, a teenage girl in pajamas, and a grey cat camping in the forest. The FBI knew that DiMaggio had a grey cat. When the FBI interviewed individuals who knew both Hannah Anderson and James DiMaggio, at least one person told the agents that the teenager said DiMaggio “creeped her out.”
On August 9, another hiker told police that they had seen the duo setting up a camp at Morehead Lake, and the next day, the U.S. Marshals Service used a small plane to search the area.
“Somewhere in his mind, I think he thought that he and Hannah would have a relationship and she would somehow fall in love with him,” the FBI said. “I think the ability for him to get her away and take her somewhere, he somehow thought he could change the situation.”
Agents also felt that DiMaggio thought Hannah Anderson was growing up and away from the man she had always referred to as “Uncle Jim.”
According to statements from both Hannah and FBI agents, James DiMaggio fired at least one shot during the rescue. The hostage rescue team opened fire and reportedly hit DiMaggio with five shots, killing him instantly.
Hannah Anderson is now living with her dad, is an honor student, and hopes to one day become a detective with the Special Victims Unit, according to an FBI spokesperson.
[Image by Pool/Getty Images]