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Amber Alert: No new leads as search in Idaho begins in earnest

August 10, 2013|By Kate Mather and Jason Wells

CASCADE, Idaho -- As crews continued to comb a vast Idaho wilderness Saturday in search of missing teen Hannah Anderson and her alleged captor, James Lee DiMaggio, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said they were operating with no new information.

Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Department in Idaho, told reporters during a briefing that there had been no new sightings of the pair since a group of horseback riders reported encountering two people believed to be DiMaggio and 16-year-old Hannah in a remote area on Wednesday.

Authorities said the witnesses reported that the man and girl had a tent and backpacks but looked out of place in the rugged terrain because they had light camping equipment. Otherwise, the girl “appeared to be in good health.” 

The River of No Return Wilderness contains more than 2 million acres of federally designated land, marked by rivers, deep canyons and rugged mountains. Federal protections prohibit motorized vehicles in some areas.

The size of the search area, combined with the fact that DiMaggio, 40, is considered armed and dangerous, would no doubt complicate efforts to track the pair down.

Safety of the search teams, Dearden said, would be a top priority.

“We’re going to put every resource into this,” she said, adding that they were “ very hopeful” DiMaggio and Hannah could be tracked down.

Dearden declined to go into specifics about how teams would approach the massive search, but said horseback riders and aircraft would play important roles given the rugged and remote terrain.

“It is an extensive area to search,” she said.

Efforts focused on the wilderness near Cascade after DiMaggio's blue Nissan Versa was found “just off the road” covered in brush, authorities said.

The case began Sunday after the body of Hannah's mother, Christina Anderson, was found in DiMaggio's burning San Diego County home. The body of a boy -- later identified as Hannah's 8-year-old brother, Ethan  -- was also found.

Anderson died of blunt-force trauma and may have been hit with a crowbar, a source close to the investigation told The Times. An arrest warrant has been issued for DiMaggio, San Diego County sheriff's officials said.

DiMaggio has been described as a close friend of the Anderson family. The children called him “Uncle Jim,” authorities said. They said they were still trying to sort out his relationship with Hannah.


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Mather reported from Cascade and Wells from Los Angeles.

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