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Amber Alert case: Burned body IDed as missing boy

August 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The San Diego Sheriff's Department said Friday night the burned body in a Boulevard house is the 8-year-old son of a slain woman and brother of a missing girl that prompted a multi-state Amber Alert.

A massive search is underway for James Lee DiMaggio, who is suspected in the murders as well as the abduction of 16-year-old Hannah Anderson.

Investigators believe DiMaggio, 40, abducted the Lakeside teen. DiMaggio went missing Monday night, and Anderson's mother was found dead at DiMaggio's burning home. A dead child found nearby has now been identified as 8-year-old Ethan Anderson.

Earlier Friday, a car belonging to DiMaggio was found in Idaho. San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said the blue Nissan Versa was found covered in brush in a remote area about six miles outside Cascade, Idaho, at about 8 a.m. Friday. The car's license plate had been removed, but authorities confirmed it was the suspect's car through the VIN number.

Gore revealed that the search that led to the discovery of the car came after a man on horseback spotted two people matching the description of DiMaggio and Anderson on Wednesday. The horseback rider "exchanged pleasantries" with the pair, and was struck by the fact that the pair were camping with such light equipment in a remote area. He was unaware of the Amber Alert at the time. When he returned, he saw the reporting about the Amber Alert and alerted authorities.

The man said the two people appeared to be in good health, and that he saw no visible signs that the teen was being held against her will.

"I think we should all be optimistic that she appeared to be in somewhat good health and was alive on Wednesday, and we hope that law enforcement will find them up in the mountains there and return them safely," Gore said.

Authorities in Idaho have now launched an extensive search in the area, which was described as rugged terrain. The FBI is assisting in the manhunt, which had previously been extended to Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, as well as Canada and Mexico.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said Thursday that a search of DiMaggio's home, east of San Diego, suggests he might have homemade explosives with him. Authorities were worried he may have booby-trapped his car, but they said late Friday there were no explosives in the vehicle.

The teen's father, Brett Anderson, says the combination of searching for his daughter while mourning his wife and son is simply too much to take.

"It's a total breakdown, it's emotional, it's tiring, it's stressful, it's upsetting," he said.

DiMaggio is about 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He has been described as a well-traveled outdoorsman. He is a former friend of Hannah's father, Brett Anderson.

Hannah is about 5-foot-7 and 115 pounds, with blond hair, blue eyes, a navel ring, a nose stud and pierced ears. Ethan was described as about 4 feet 11 inches and 65 pounds, with sandy blond hair.

The case led to the first-ever use of the cellphone Amber Alert system Monday night, which startled many people.

Anyone with information on the possible whereabouts of the suspect or the missing children was asked to immediately call the San Diego County Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200.


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