SAN DIEGO (TheBlaze/AP) — A car belonging to the suspect in the horrific disappearance of a teenage girl in California has been found in a remote area of Idaho, authorities said on Friday, and it’s possible the two have also been spotted.
According to San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, a group of horseback riders saw two people with backpacks matching the description the suspect and the teen in the Cascade area, roughly 70 miles northeast of Boise, on Wednesday.
Authorities throughout the West have been looking for 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and family friend James Lee DiMaggio since the bodies of the girl’s mother and an unidentified child were found Sunday at DiMaggio’s burned home east of San Diego.
The unidentified body may be that of Hannah’s missing little brother.
Authorities have said the 40-year-old DiMaggio had what they term an “unusual infatuation” with the 16-year-old, and are using that as a working theory.
DiMaggio told Hannah Anderson a couple months ago that he had a crush on her and would date her if they were the same age, said Marissa Chavez, a 15-year-old friend who witnessed the remarks when DiMaggio was driving them home from a gymnastics competition. Chavez said Hannah was “a little creeped out by it.”
“She was scared and she didn’t want to go around him anymore but didn’t know how to tell anybody,” neighbor Traci Paulson said, choking back tears.
DiMaggio argued with Hannah when he took her alone to Hollywood to celebrate her 16th birthday last month, Chavez said.
Police previously warned that DiMaggio’s car may have been abandoned and rigged with explosives, having found evidence in the rubble of his home that he made have fled with handmade explosives.
“In the event that someone comes across the car, they need to use caution,” San Diego County Sheriff’s Capt. Duncan Fraser said.
DiMaggio is wanted on suspicion of murder and arson in a search that began in California and spread to Oregon, Washington, Nevada, British Columbia and Mexico’s Baja California state.
A telecommunications technician at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, DiMaggio was said to be “like an uncle” to Hannah and Ethan Anderson. He was close to their parents for years.
Brett Anderson, the children’s father and Christina’s husband, recently moved to Tennessee.
Speaking with reporters, Anderson said: “Jim, I can’t fathom what you were thinking. The damage is done. I’m begging you to let my daughter go. You’ve taken everything else.”
Pausing to collect himself, he continued: “Hannah, we all love you very much. If you have a chance, you take it, you run. You’ll be found.”
Watch Anderson’s complete interview on Fox & Friends, below:
At Friday’s press conference, Gore expressed hope that Hannah will be found.
“I’m very confident and I think we should all be optimistic that she appeared to be in somewhat good health and alive on Wednesday,” he said.
This is a breaking news story. Updates will be added.