Girl, 16, uses the Internet to describe kidnapping
August 15, 2013 4:00 AM
From left: James Lee DiMaggio, 40, Ethan Anderson, 8, and Hannah Anderson, 16
By Elliot Spagat Associated Press
SAN DIEGO -- Hannah Anderson says a longtime family friend "tricked" her into visiting his house, tied up her mother and younger brother in his garage and kidnapped her, setting off a massive search that stretched across much of the western United States.
And when she later learned that her mother and brother were found dead in her captor's burning Southern California house, the 16-year-old said she cried all night.
"I wish I could go back in time and risk my life to try and save theirs. I will never forgive myself for not trying harder to save them," she wrote in a harrowing account on a social media site, roughly two days after she was rescued and FBI agents killed James Lee DiMaggio in the Idaho wilderness.
Many of the hundreds of the questions she fielded on the social media site were typical teenage fare, including her favorite musical performers, but she also told of how she was kidnapped, how she survived captivity and how she is coping with the deaths of her mother and brother.
The postings, which began Monday night and stopped Tuesday night, appeared on the ask.fm social-networking site account for "Hannahbanana722" of Lakeside, the San Diego suburb where the teen lived with her mother and brother. The account was disabled Wednesday.
DiMaggio, 40, was shot at least five times in the head and chest, said authorities, who were unable to determine a precise number of gunshot wounds. DiMaggio's body was cremated Tuesday near Los Angeles, family spokesman Andrew Spanswick said.
Police have said little about the investigation. A San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman said authorities were aware of the online comments, but could not confirm the account was Hannah's.
Dawn MacNabb, whose son, Alan, is one of Hannah's closest friends, confirmed that the postings were by the teen. Alan on Tuesday spoke on the phone with Hannah and urged her to delete some of the postings, Ms. MacNabb said.
At one point, a questioner asked Hannah to post a photo, and she complied with an image showing her with a wide smile. She declined interview requests from news organizations that posted to her account.
Los Angeles psychologist Nora Baladerian, who headed trauma teams in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, said Hannah's choice of social media was another example of how her generation turns to the Internet to share deeply personal experiences with strangers. "I think what's she's doing is connecting, and that's a good thing," Ms. Baladerian said.
Hannah was kidnapped Aug. 4 by DiMaggio, her father's best friend, who had been like an uncle to her and her 8-year-old brother, Ethan. DiMaggio had invited the children and their mother, Christina Anderson, 44, to his house in Boulevard, a rural town 65 miles east of San Diego.
Search warrants unsealed Wednesday said DiMaggio tortured and killed Christina and Ethan Anderson. The warrants do not describe the torture but say the Christina Anderson's body was found in the garage near a crowbar and what appeared to be blood next to her head. The body of Ethan Anderson was found as investigators sifted through rubble.
The warrants also said DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson exchanged about 13 calls before Hannah was picked up from cheerleading practice on Aug. 4. Both phones were turned off, and the home burned several hours later.
"He told us he was losing his house because of money issues, so we went up there one last time to support him and to have fun riding go karts up there, but he tricked us," Hannah wrote.
Hannah said she "basically" stayed awake for six straight days and repeatedly told her captor she was hungry. She couldn't escape because DiMaggio had a gun and "threatened to kill me and anyone who tried to help."
She said she was too frightened to ask for help when horseback riders encountered the pair in the remote wilderness Aug. 7. The riders didn't report the sightings to police until the next day, after returning home and learning about the search.
"I had to act calm. I didn't want them to get hurt. I was scared that he would kill them," she wrote.
The girl said DiMaggio threatened her if she didn't help hide his blue Nissan Versa with tree branches. Authorities discovered the car Friday, leading to her rescue the following day.
Asked if she would have preferred that DiMaggio would have received a lifetime prison sentence instead of being killed, she replied, "He deserved what he got."
Hannah said she was uncomfortable around DiMaggio even before the ordeal, saying he once told her that he was drawn to her. "He said it was more like a family crush, like he had feelings as in he wanted nothing bad to happen to me," she wrote. She said she didn't tell her parents because DiMaggio was his father's best friend, "and I didn't want to ruin anything between them."
On Monday, Hannah had her nails done, pink for her mother and blue for her brother.