Mom of California kidnap victim died of blows to head

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 20, 2013 12:51 AM

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The mother of Southern California kidnap victim Hannah Anderson died of blunt force trauma to the head, the San Diego County Medical Examiner said Monday.

Christina Anderson, whose body was found in the burned-out garage of suspected kidnapper James DiMaggio near a crow bar and a blood stain, died in the August 4 tragedy along with her 8-year-old son, Ethan and the family dog, Cali.

Hannah, 16, was discovered with DiMaggio days later in the Idaho wilderness, after a widely distributed amber alert that included flashing freeway signs and text messages sent to mobile phones across four states.

After the pair was spotted by local ranchers, officials rescued Hannah and killed DiMaggio.

The case is puzzling in part because DiMaggio was a longtime friend of Hannah's parents, Christina and Brett, and was best man at their wedding.

Authorities have said they believe he set into motion the deadly chain of events two weeks ago and took Hannah with him against her will. But they have not yet offered clues as to why he acted as he did.

The badly burned body of Ethan Anderson was found in a different part of the wreckage than his mother. Authorities have not yet released a cause of death for him.

The remains of Christina Anderson, 44, were found beneath a tarp in the garage of DiMaggio's log cabin style house in Boulevard, about 25 miles east of San Diego.

But in yet another poignant twist, a friend of the DiMaggio family said Monday that James DiMaggio made Brett Anderson's mother, Bernice, the beneficiary of a $112,000 life insurance policy.

The friend, Andrew Spanswick, said the money was intended for Ethan and Hannah and that DiMaggio made Bernice Anderson his beneficiary in 2011.

"He was living with Bernice at the time while he saved up to buy his house," said Spanswick.

He wanted to leave money to Ethan and Hannah, but didn't trust their parents to handle it properly, Spanswick said, so DiMaggio specified Bernice Anderson as his beneficiary.

Lora DiMaggio Robinson, DiMaggio's sister, does not plan to contest the payment, Spanswick said.

(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Eric Walsh)