San Diego County Sheriff's Dept. says James DiMaggio may be armed with explosives

Search continues for DiMaggio, 2 children

SAN DIEGO - Murder and kidnapping suspect James DiMaggio may be armed with homemade explosive devices, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff's officials said Thursday that evidence recovered at DiMaggio's Boulevard home suggests he might have fled with explosives. Officials also warned citizens to stay away if they see DiMaggio's car for fear it might be booby-trapped.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell told 10News, "If you see this car, don't go close to it. There is a possibility he may have rigged it … Memorize the car, memorize the license plate, the faces, and then don't do anything; don't approach them, call 911."

Family friend Angelina Amati told 10News, "I know for a fact that in having conversations with Jim, he had the means of protecting himself in his home."

Amati spoke of a time DiMaggio and Ethan Anderson were setting off explosives on his land.

"In one conversation I had with Tina, they were telling us how they were up there and Jim was showing Ethan how to expose of some stuff because that's why he bought the land -- so they can go out there and have fun," said Amati.

Teams of investigators are continuing to work with urgency to find DiMaggio and a teenage girl he is suspected of kidnapping after allegedly killing her mother and a child who, so far, has not been positively identified.

The FBI was helping the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and other police agencies across the western United States chase leads into the whereabouts of the 40-year-old DiMaggio, who is believed to be on the run with 16-year-old Hannah Anderson of Lakeside and, possibly, her 8-year-old brother, Ethan.

A half-dozen FBI agents have joined the effort as a means of expanding "interstate and international capabilities," Caldwell said.

Authorities believe DiMaggio may be driving his dark blue 2013 Nissan Versa sedan, California license 6WCU986. He may have headed to Texas or Canada. DiMaggio is about 5 feet 9 inches and 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

"As we've said all along, he could be in Mexico, he could be in Canada, or he could be a mile away (from where he lived)," Caldwell said.

The suspect, a camping enthusiast, might be trying to avoid capture by traveling through or hunkering down in wilderness areas, Caldwell noted.

DiMaggio allegedly killed longtime friend Christina Anderson, 44, and an unidentified child, possibly her son. The victims' burned bodies and the remains of a dog were found Sunday evening in the charred rubble of the suspect's torched back-country home off Old Highway 80 in Boulevard.

Investigators believe DiMaggio burned down his log cabin-style Ross Avenue home and detached garage before fleeing.

Authorities were awaiting the results of DNA comparisons to determine if the deceased child was Ethan. Those tests could take several more days to complete, or might wind up inconclusive, sheriff's homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.

The Los Angeles Times, citing a source close to the investigation, reported Thursday that Christina Anderson died of blunt force trauma and may have been struck by a crowbar.

Sheriff's officials did not confirm the LA Times report when asked by 10News.

Authorities have received numerous tips about possible sightings of the suspect's car over the last several days, though none has proved conclusive, Giannantonio said.

Early Wednesday afternoon, investigators got word that DiMaggio's vehicle may have been spotted on northbound Highway 395 in Alturas, in the northeast corner of California, and across the state line in southern Oregon. Local authorities, however, were unable to substantiate the reports.

Amber Alerts have been issued in the case in Oregon, Nevada and Washington, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

On Thursday, Oregon State Police said more than 130 tips have been received from the public after the alert was issued in the search for DiMaggio, but so far there have been no confirmed sightings.

Senior Trooper Daniel Swift, a police spokesman, said that as of 5 p.m. Thursday, a total of 134 tips had been received, but no possible sightings have been confirmed.

Swift said "a few" cars have been stopped and checked.

On Tuesday evening, the father of the missing children addressed the suspect, formerly a good friend of his, through the news media.

"Jim, I can't fathom what you were thinking," Brett Anderson said in front of sheriff's headquarters in Kearny Mesa. "The damage is done. I'm begging you to let my daughter go. You've taken everything else."

He also directed a few fervent comments to his daughter.

"Hannah, we all love you very much," he said. "If you have a chance, you take it. You run. You'll be found."

In an interview Thursday, the grieving father said he was at a loss to explain how his longtime friend could have committed the terrible crimes attributed to him.

"I have been through every scenario in my brain," Brett Anderson said. "There was nothing ever to show any indication of this. Everybody you could ... talk to loved (DiMaggio)."

The suspect's sister told 10News her brother was a man of exemplary character, saying someone else must have committed the crimes and abducted or killed him in the process.

"He helped everyone that he knew in every way that he could, and he was a kind, kind, giving, loving person," Lora Robinson said in a halting voice. "He's done so much for so many people, and I just want him to come home."

Giannantonio conceded that DiMaggio's alleged atrocities seemed out of character.

"However, we have a vast amount of evidence to show that he is responsible for these crimes," the lieutenant said.

Authorities have declined to disclose what led them to conclude that DiMaggio was the responsible party.

In addition to having been friends to Brett and Christina Anderson for years, suspect was close to their children for their entire lives.

"From what I've heard, (Ethan and Hannah) considered him an uncle," Giannantonio told reporters.

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.

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.