Authorities 'very hopeful' to find murder suspect, missing teen in Idaho wilderness

Police: No explosives found in DiMaggio's car

SAN DIEGO - The search for a double-murder suspect from Boulevard and a missing teenage girl focused Saturday on a rugged, isolated Idaho forest preserve where his car was found and where witnesses spotted may have spotted the pair.

LINK: Timeline of events in search for DiMaggio, children

Crews continued to search for James DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson in a remote, mountainous area of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho.

At least 250 personnel were combing the rugged wilderness area near Cascade for the suspect and apparent kidnapping victim, Ada County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Andrea Dearden said during a 1p.m. news conference Saturday.

The area being searched is more than 300 square miles. An aerial search is also under way due to the rugged, mountainous terrain.

Dearden said there are no plans to search at night due to safety concerns.

DiMaggio's blue 2013 Nissan Versa was searched by sheriff's detectives and a bomb squad, and the Ada County Sheriff's Office in Idaho told reporters Saturday that a preliminary search turned up no explosives. A team of officers are currently searching DiMaggio's car for evidence. Dearden said San Diego sheriff's detectives will move and further examine DiMaggio's car.

The Versa was found, its license plates stripped and covered with brush, at a remote trailhead. Authorities were able to identify it as the suspect's car by its vehicle identification number.

The discovery came about a day and a half after a man on horseback saw two people who he now believes may have matched the description of DiMaggio and Anderson near the Morehead Lake area.

That area is about six to eight miles from the trailhead. There have been no new sightings of DiMaggio and Hannah since about 5 p.m. Wednesday. The pair was hiking with what looked to be camping gear.

The horseback rider who saw the pair Wednesday contacted Idaho State Police later that night after reading about the Amber Alert issued in connection with the DiMaggio case. The rider told law enforcement he felt the pair were acting a little odd but did not feel threatened by them or detect any imminent danger.

"From the account we received, they both appeared to be in good health," San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told news crews during a Friday morning briefing.

Gore also said his department learned that it did not appear that the girl was obviously being held against her will. There were no sightings of a boy, Gore added.

At this time, their location is unknown. Authorities said Saturday they are "very hopeful" in finding the two alive.

Officers have set up checkpoints on the forest roads lead back to the trailhead and Morehouse Lake areas to monitor any people coming in or out.

As of Saturday morning, there have been no reports of any stolen cars by recreationists in the area, which is popular with campers, rafters, and hikers.

On Friday night, authorities confirmed that a badly burned body of a child found in suspect DiMaggio's fire-gutted home off Old Highway 80 east of Pine Valley was the girl's 8-year-old brother, Ethan Anderson.

The identity was ascertained through analysis of DNA extracted through bone marrow, according to Jan Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The boy's remains and those of his 44-year-old mother, Christina Anderson, were found Sunday night along with a dead dog in the embers of DiMaggio's home on Ross Avenue in Boulevard, a small settlement in the mountains 45 miles east of San Diego.

Saturday was the sixth day of an urgent multi-state effort to find the 40-year-old suspect, who went missing at the same time as the children, with whom he had a long-time family friendship. DiMaggio is suspected of abducting the minor after killing the boy and his mother, authorities said.

Law enforcement officials consider DiMaggio highly dangerous and likely armed, potentially with explosives or incendiary devices. Authorities have declined to reveal why investigators believe he might have bomb-making capability and intentions.

The reasons for DiMaggio's alleged spree of homicide and abduction remained a mystery, sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser told reporters during the morning news conference outside sheriff's headquarters in Kearny Mesa.

"We don't know what the motive is, at this point," Fraser said.

Authorities believe DiMaggio premeditated his alleged crimes, in part because he bought new camping gear recently, the captain told news crews.

For their part, friends of Hannah's have said the suspect at times seemed infatuated with her.

Officials urged anyone spotting DiMaggio -- who is about 5 feet 9 inches and 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes -- to avoid approaching or contacting him, and to instead contact law enforcement immediately.

Hannah is about 5 feet 7 and 115 pounds, with blond hair, blue eyes, a navel ring, a nose stud and pierced ears.

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


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