Hannah's Family: DiMaggio's Death "Fitting"

"Everyone had a place in helping get her home," said Hannah's grandmother

By Megan Tevrizian and R. Stickney
|  Monday, Aug 12, 2013  |  Updated 6:18 AM CDT
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The family of missing Lakeside teen Hannah Anderson was overcome with emotion Saturday after learning that officials had found Hannah safe in Idaho backcountry. NBC 7's Megan Tevrizian reports.

The family of missing Lakeside teen Hannah Anderson was overcome with emotion Saturday after learning that officials had found Hannah safe in Idaho backcountry. NBC 7's Megan Tevrizian reports.

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Relatives of a San Diego teenager who officials say was abducted by a family friend and driven to the Idaho wilderness told NBC 7 it's fitting the suspect was killed by law enforcement.

Hannah Anderson, 16, and the man accused of abducting her and killing her mother and brother just days earlier, James Lee DiMaggio, 40, were located Saturday afternoon north of Cascade, Idaho.

An FBI agent shot and killed DiMaggio at a campsite San Diego County sheriff’s deputies said.

Read: Missing San Diego Teen Found Safe Suspect Killed

The teenager, while appearing to be in good condition with no serious injuries, was airlifted out of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area and flown to a nearby hospital where she could be treated by medical staff and crisis counselors.

Hannah's condition was unknown and family members weren't sure what the teenager witnessed or experienced.

"She's the only one that can tell us and we'll go from there when she's ready," said maternal grandmother Sara Britt.

Earlier in the day Britt and other relatives went to the Lakeside, Calif., apartment where Christina Anderson, 44, lived with Hannah and her 8-year-old son Ethan.

They planned to pack up everything; they don't want Hannah to ever go back to that apartment again.

Britt held a little stuffed SpongeBob Square Pants. The toy was Ethan's. She said she's going to sleep with it from now on.

While packing up the apartment, Britt got a call from Hannah's father, Brett Anderson. He was crying and told her to come over to his home.

Once there, she was informed that FBI agents moved in on the pair around 4:20 p.m. PT. Hannah was found alive and DiMaggio had been shot and killed. 

After six days of a widespread Amber Alert more than 200 state and federal law enforcement officials were tipped to the Idaho backcountry after a fortunate sighting from a horseback rider Wednesday.

The man told officials nothing was alarming about his conversation with the adult male and teenaged girl but it seemed odd. After seeing the Amber Alert information, the horseback rider called in the information to authorities.

Relatives said they were gathering reward money to thank him for that fateful tip.

"Can't pay him enough for the life of my granddaughter," she said.

On Friday, officials discovered DiMaggio’s blue Nissan Versa covered by brush. They then brought in dozens of law enforcement officers to scour the rugged terrain by air, horse and all-terrain vehicles.

Then Saturday, U.S. Marshals flying a plane over the area of Morehead Lake spotted a tent.

An FBI SWAT and task force team moved in. DiMaggio was shot and killed and Hanna Anderson was flown to safety. Officials did not reveal if Hannah Anderson said anything to officials once she was found.

Timeline: Search for Hannah Anderson

Homicide detectives believe DiMaggio planned the violence that played out this week beginning with the arson Sunday evening.

Christina and Ethan Anderson were found on DiMaggio's property in Boulevard where a log-style cabin and detached garage burned to the ground. The boy’s body was so badly burned it took the county medical examiner’s office several days to positively identify him through DNA extraction from his bone marrow.

"We had to put the murder of Ethan and Tina on hold in the back of our minds because we had to totally focus on Hannah," Britt said. "So now we can take the time to grieve my daughter and grandson.''

Hanna’s grandmother said she never saw anything in DiMaggio that would’ve hinted in the death of her daughter and grandson and the abduction of Hannah.

“People like that, it’s in them anyway and they work that to their advantage. They’ll show you the good person they are to work their way into your family and into your children’s lives,” she said.

Family members say the fact that DiMaggio was killed is fitting. Britt was relieved her granddaughter won't have to deal with anything in court.

The teenager's relatives wanted to thank everyone for their prayers, support and love.

"Everyone had a place in helping us get her home," Britt said.

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