In an interview this morning on “The Today Show”, Hannah Anderson went into detail concerning her relationship with her abductor, James DiMaggio. DiMaggio, a family friend of Anderson’s parents, kidnapped Hannah on August 3rd and then led authorities on a week-long manhunt across the western United States.
Anderson said that she and DiMaggio had such a close relationship because he had helped her through her parents’ divorce: “I wouldn’t have really anyone to talk about it with. Me and him, instead of talking face to face, if we didn’t have time or, like calling, we’d just write letters back and forth, talking about the situation and how to get through it.”
Anderson also stated that she liked to bring friends over to DiMaggio’s house due to how “fun” it was. However, DiMaggio wanted to be more than just a fun get-away for Hannah and her friends. When Hannah wanted to bring a male friend over to DiMaggio’s home, he stated “I don’t want to see you kissing your friends or anything like that, because I have a crush on you. Not a crush that, like, feeling a crush as in — like family, like I care about you.’”
DiMaggio would demonstrate just how deep that crush ran when he convinced Hannah to come to his house after he picked her up from cheerleading practice one afternoon. Once at DiMaggio’s house, Anderson was tied up and forced to play Russian roulette: “When it was my turn, I started crying, and was freaking out. And he said, ‘Do you want to play?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And I started crying and then he’s like, ‘Okay.’ And he stopped.”
While DiMaggio showed mercy toward Anderson, he had no such compassion toward Hannah’s mother and brother. After DiMaggio revealed his plans to kidnap Anderson, he then told her that her mother and brother were safely confined upstairs. At this point, Anderson says that she believed DiMaggio drugged her with Ambien.
Anderson’s story then picks up in Idaho, where DiMaggio reveals that he had set-up a timer that would start a fire in the house. He reassured Anderson, though, that he had left clues as to the whereabouts of her mother and brother so that firefighters could find them before the fire consumed them. The timer wound up simply being a diversionary tactic to give DiMaggio a 20-hour head start on authorities. Anderson’s mother and brother would later be found dead in remains of the fire.
After one week in the Idaho wilderness, a couple of horseback riders stumbled across Anderson and DiMaggio: “I remember hearing them come behind us the first time and Jim would say, ‘Don’t. Act normal. If you say something, I’m gonna have to kill them.’ So I’d have to sit and I’d have to just act normal.”
The horseback riders found the pair to be suspicious, however, and found their suspicions confirmed when they saw the Amber Alert once they returned home.
Using information from the horseback riders, police were able to quickly determine the location of DiMaggio and Anderson. They were aided by some odd behavior on DiMaggio’s part, as well. According to Anderson, DiMaggio had lit a fire to use as an SOS signal. When that did not work, Anderson suggested to DiMaggio that he fire his gun three times in the air, as a form of a distress signal.
After his first 2 fires, there came a cacophony of gunfire and DiMaggio hit the ground: “And I kind of looked over and I was, like, ‘Are you okay?’ And then a bunch of the FBI people came out, telling me to get down.”
It has only been two months since Anderson’s ordeal, but she has already been fairly open about the atrocities she has faced. Her openness has come too quickly for one person. Chelsea Hoffman, an author who has studied high-profile kidnappings, has written a book, entitled “The River of No Return,” in which she believes Anderson’s behavior does not fit her story: “I can’t really think of any notable survivors of kidnappings that shared the same behavior as she has. Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, Amanda Berry … the only time any of these people have really spoken to the public in the beginning was to ask for privacy and peace while they picked up the pieces of their lives and healed.”
Hoffman also believes that Anderson’s lack of a cry for help once she met the horseback riders is odd: “As far as I’ve read, they were visibly armed and he wasn’t armed at the time he was holding the cat that they had taken with them, so I don’t understand what was going through her head at the time.”
Rumors suggest that Anderson is seeking to establish a book deal of her own. If so, one has to wonder if the willingness to discuss the ordeal so quickly and openly is wholly contributable to Anderson, herself. Perhaps an adult-figure is pushing Anderson toward the lime-light in order to score a lucrative deal? Or perhaps making the information so public is Anderson’s way of coping? Whatever the reason, let’s hope that the government shutdown ends soon and the Amber Alert system starts operating again so that more abduction stories end in rescue in the future.
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