California murder suspect James Lee DiMaggio, accused of kidnapping 16-year-old Hannah Anderson, was killed late Saturday after an intense manhunt that culminated in a heavily wooded area in Idaho, authorities confirmed.
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said DiMaggio, 40, is dead after at least 150 police and FBI agents swarmed a dense forest about 70 miles northeast of Boise and a shootout ensued.
The firefight capped a weeklong hunt for DiMaggio, who was on the run with Anderson after apparently killing her mother Christina Anderson, 44, and 8-year-old brother Ethan Anderson last Sunday at his house. DiMaggio is believed to have burned down his own home in Southern California with the victims' bodies still inside.
"It truly was a joint effort and I am pleased to stand here today and say that Hannah was successfully rescued and appears to be in pretty good shape," Gore told a press conference late Saturday.
Hannah's father, Brett Anderson, who was separated from her mother and living in Tennessee, was reportedly ecstatic that the teen had been found alive and safe. He was being flown to Idaho to be with Hannah by Sunday.
"Obviously he's elated that his daughter is alive," Gore said. "He was very relieved and very excited and looking forward to being reunited with his daughter."
Brett Anderson told CNN that though he can't wait to see Hannah again, he's worried about what she's been through. The teen will be examined at the hospital before detectives and agents interview her, according to Gore.
Authorities say DiMaggio, a close friend of the Anderson family, was "infatuated" with the blond teenager. But Brett Anderson said he never saw any indication that DiMaggio had inappropriate feelings for his daughter.
It's not clear whether Hannah knew in advance about the murders or may have been cooperating with DiMaggio out of fear for her life. Police said they weren't even sure Hannah was aware that her mom and little brother were dead.
The ordeal came to an end about 4:22 p.m. Pacific time in a shootout after authorities stormed into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. DiMaggio had been spotted camping with Hannah by four horseback riders in the thickly wooded, roadless swath of land. His car was found nearby, covered in brush. Despite reports that it had been booby-trapped, no explosives were found inside.
The riders didn't realize who the pair were until they got home and recognized them on the news, though they were suspicious because they looked out of place. The four friends told authorities it didn't seem as though the girl was being held against her will.
The search-and-rescue effort was hampered by the extremely rough, remote terrain and lack of cellphone coverage, police said.
It was a happy ending for all those who have been glued to every detail of this case and worried for Hannah's safety. She has a lot of healing ahead of her to get through this terrible trauma, but we are thankful she is alive and well and will soon be with her dad again.
Have you been following this case?
Image via San Diego Sheriff's Department