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A man suspected of killing a California woman and her young son before fleeing with her 16-year-old daughter was killed in the Idaho wilderness Saturday, and the teen was found safe, authorities said.
James Lee DiMaggio, 40, was killed at the north end of Morehead Lake, San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore said. The shooting came after officers participating in a massive manhunt spotted a campsite from the air and an FBI hostage recovery team was sent to the site.
The FBI said it was sending a team to investigate what unfolded before, during and after the shooting roughly 40 miles from the tiny town of Cascade, Idaho. Authorities offered few details Saturday night.
“In this case our team faced a very challenging situation,” said Mary Rook, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City division. “Now that Hannah is safe and being evaluated in a medical facility, the FBI is working with Hannah and her family to get them the resources that they need.”
Gore said members of the San Diego sheriff’s office notified Hannah Anderson’s father, Brett Anderson, that she was rescued Saturday afternoon.
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“He was very relieved and very excited and looking forward to being reunited with his daughter,” Gore said.
Plans were being made to reunite the two as soon as possible, he said.
CNN’s Don Lemon anchored coverage for the network with Miguel Marquez on the scene in Cascade. Marquez reported people were in high spirits to learn Hannah was safe, and said media from all over California and Idaho had descended upon the town.
Paul Vercammen was in San Diego for CNN and reported the girls’ grandparents were ecstatic that she was safe.
On Fox News Channel, Jeanine Pirro interviewed Andrew Spanswick, a friend of the fugitive.
“The family wishes to express their condolences for the tragedy that has happened so far,” Spanswick said. He speculated DiMaggio committed his crimes as a reaction to the suicide of his father 15 years ago. The anniversary of the death recently happened. Spanswick said the suspect never spoke with any family members or friends about having an obsession with Hannah, and said they hadn’t seen any warning signs of his crimes.
“Certainly if we had, we would have intervened.”
Hannah had no apparent physical injuries, but she was taken to a hospital where crisis counselors and health care providers would assist her.
“We will make sure she gets as much care as possible, physically and emotionally,” said Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman from the Ada County Sheriff’s Department who has been leading the communication team for the joint effort to find the teenager in Valley County, Idaho.
Dearden said she didn’t know whether DiMaggio had fired at officers but there were no reports of any injuries to authorities involved in the encounter.
The teen and DiMaggio were spotted not far from where a horseback rider had reported seeing two people who matched the description of the pair Wednesday, Dearden said. The rider didn’t realize the pair were being sought until he got home and recognized them in news reports, she said.
Authorities started searching Thursday, and DiMaggio’s car was found Friday morning parked where a dirt road ends and the Sand Creek trailhead enters the wilderness area. The license plates had been removed, but the vehicle identification number matched that of the car being sought.
Federal and local law enforcement spent Saturday combing through Idaho’s rugged Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in search of DiMaggio and the teen. The wilderness is the largest roadless area in the Lower 48 states, sprawling across central Idaho and reaching north to the Montana border.
DiMaggio is suspected of killing Hannah’s mother, 44-year-old Christina Anderson, and Hannah’s 8-year-old brother Ethan Anderson, whose bodies were found Sunday night in DiMaggio’s burning house in California near the Mexico border.
DiMaggio was close to the family. Brett Anderson has described him as a best friend and said his children thought of him as an uncle.
Authorities have said DiMaggio had an “unusual infatuation” with Hannah, although the father said he never saw any strange behavior. If he had, he said, “we would have quashed that relationship in an instant.”
DiMaggio, a telecommunications technician at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, was planning to move to Texas and invited Christina Anderson and the children to his home last weekend to say goodbye, said Christopher Saincome, Christina Anderson’s father.
It’s unclear how the two were killed, though police believe the crime was planned.
Brett Anderson said his friend is an outdoorsman, and Gore noted that DiMaggio bought camping gear a few weeks ago.
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