Hannah Anderson says a longtime family friend “tricked” her into visiting his house, tied up her mother and younger brother in his garage and kidnapped her, setting off a massive search that stretched across much of the western U.S.
When she later learned they were found dead in her captor’s burning Southern California house, the 16-year-old said, she cried all night.
“I wish I could go back in time and risk my life to try and save theirs. I will never forgive myself for not trying harder to save them,” she wrote in a harrowing account on a social media site roughly two days after she was rescued and FBI agents killed James Lee DiMaggio in the Idaho wilderness.
Many of the hundreds of the questions she fielded on the social media site were typical teenage fare, including her favorite musical performers, but she also told of how she was kidnapped, how she survived captivity and how she is coping with the deaths of her mother and brother.
The postings, which began Monday night and stopped Tuesday night, appeared on the ask.fm social-networking site account for “Hannahbanana722” of Lakeside, the San Diego suburb where the teen lived with her mother and brother. The account was disabled Wednesday.
DiMaggio, 40, was shot at least five times in the head and chest, said authorities, who were unable to determine a precise number of gunshot wounds. DiMaggio’s body was cremated Tuesday near Los Angeles, family spokesman Andrew Spanswick said.
Police have said little about the investigation. A spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said authorities were aware of the online comments but could not confirm the account was Hannah’s.
Dawn MacNabb, whose son, Alan, is one of Hannah’s closest friends, confirmed the postings were by the teen. Alan spoke with Hannah on the phone Tuesday and urged her to delete some of the postings, MacNabb said.
At one point, a questioner asked Hannah to post a photo and she complied with an image showing her with a wide smile.
She declined interview requests from news organizations that posted to her account.
Nora Baladerian, a Los Angeles psychologist who headed trauma teams in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, said Anderson’s choice of social media was another example of how her generation turns to the Internet to share deeply personal experiences with strangers.
“I think what’s she’s doing is connecting, and that’s a good thing,” Baladerian said.
Anderson was kidnapped Aug. 4 by DiMaggio, her father’s best friend who was like an uncle to her and her 8-year-old brother, Ethan. DiMaggio had invited the children and their mother, Christina Anderson, 44, to his house in Boulevard, a rural town 65 miles east of San Diego.
“He told us he was losing his house because of money issues so we went up there one last time to support him, and to have fun riding go karts up there but he tricked us,” Hannah wrote.
Hannah said she “basically” stayed awake for six straight days and repeatedly told her captor she was hungry. She couldn’t escape because DiMaggio had a gun and “threatened to kill me and anyone who tried to help.”
She said she was too frightened to ask for help when horseback riders encountered the pair in the remote wilderness Wednesday.
“I had to act calm I didn’t want them to get hurt. I was scared that he would kill them,” she wrote.
The girl said DiMaggio threatened her if she didn’t help hide his blue Nissan Versa with tree branches. Authorities discovered the car Friday, leading to her rescue the next day.
About the Author