Family of California kidnapper may seek DNA tests on children

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 21, 2013 5:43 PM

By Dan Whitcomb and Marty Graham

(Reuters) - The family of a California man who kidnapped a 16-year-old girl after killing her mother and younger brother want more answers from police and has considered seeking DNA tests to determine if he is the children's biological father, a family spokesman said on Wednesday.

Family members of James Lee DiMaggio were trying to understand what could have prompted the computer technician to kill 44-year-old Christina Anderson and her son, 8-year-old Ethan Anderson, and set fire to his rural San Diego area home, Andrew Spanswick told Reuters in an interview.

DiMaggio, 40, was discovered with 16-year-old Hannah Anderson days later at a mountain lake in the remote Idaho wilderness and shot to death by an FBI agent during an operation to rescue the girl.

Police have described DiMaggio, 40, as a longtime friend of Christina Anderson who was treated like an uncle to her children Hannah and Ethan. Spanswick was a friend of both DiMaggio and his sister, Lora Robinson, and has acted as a spokesman for the DiMaggio family.

"Lora is in a position of extreme grief and distress and she's looking for any sort explanation of how her brother could have changed from the person she knew into what he is accused of," Spanswick said of DiMaggio's sister.

Spanswick said members of DiMaggio's family had not made a formal request for DNA from Hannah or Ethan Anderson, but have raised the issue as they seek a fuller understanding of the events leading up to the murders and kidnapping.

"Nobody is sure of anything," he said. "So we have DNA samples from Jim. Lora at this point is just looking for a possible motive why, after taking care of these children for so long, would he do these horrible acts."

A San Diego County Sheriff's spokesman, Jan Caldwell, said on Wednesday that no requests had been made to the department for DNA from Ethan Anderson. Representatives of the Anderson family could not immediately be reached for comment.


Caldwell said that sheriff's investigators had confirmed that DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson were photographed in his car at 12:10 a.m. on August 4, some 20 hours before the house went up in flames.

Christina and Ethan Anderson were last seen alive on August 3 at their home in the San Diego community of Lakeside, and Hannah Anderson was picked up from a high school cheerleading event at Sweetwater High School in nearby National City that afternoon.

The remains of Christina Anderson were found under a tarp in DiMaggio's log-cabin-style home in Boulevard, about 25 miles east of San Diego, and an autopsy found that she died from blunt force trauma to the head.

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 the boy.

Spanswick said family members would like to see the still or video images taken of DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson at the Border Patrol checkpoint, hoping it would shed light on a confusing situation.

Authorities have not publicly discussed any possible motives for DiMaggio's actions. A family friend has said the suspect developed an apparent infatuation with the high school girl that made Hannah feel uncomfortable.

Caldwell said the police investigation was winding down and that no new details will be released by the department.

"We have concluded our investigation and we will not be making any further comment," Caldwell said.

(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Cynthia Johnston and Bernard Orr)