NPR Story
2:40 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Amber Alert For Southern California Children Expands

Originally published on Sat August 10, 2013 8:07 pm

The amber alert that was issued in California for two children, Hannah and Ethan Anderson, ages 16 and 8, has been extended to Washington and Oregon.

The children went missing from a Southern California community near San Diego.

The suspect is a family friend, James "Jim" Lee DiMaggio. He's believed to be driving a Nissan Versa, California license plate 6WCU986. Officials think it was sighted Wednesday afternoon in southern Oregon.

Even as the alert extends north, officials are also looking for the suspect in Mexico.

Speaking with CNN earlier today, the children's father, Brett Anderson, said he has no idea where DiMaggio is going, but it might be remote.

"He's into camping he could be anywhere. That's why I'm asking people going out to different camping spots. Please keep your eyes open. I don't care where it is, I just have no clue. It's surreal to me. I'm just kind of taking it day by day and hoping for the best."

The body of the children's mother, Christina Anderson, was found in DiMaggio's burning home on Sunday night.

Along with her were the burned remains of a child. Officials have not confirmed it, but relatives have said they believe it's the body of 8-year-old Ethan.

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Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW. That California amber alert for two children has been extended Washington and Oregon, and officials are also on the alert in Mexico. The suspect, 40-year-old James Lee "Jim "DiMaggio is believed to be driving a blue Nissan Versa, California plate 6WCU986. Oregon police say there was a possible sighting near Lakeview in central Oregon. The body of the children's mother, Christina Anderson, was found in DiMaggio's burning home Sunday night, along with the remains of a child.

Some relatives have said they believe that it's eight-year-old Ethan Anderson. DiMaggio, an old family friend, is believed to have kidnapped Ethan's 16-year-old sister Hannah. Their father, Brett Anderson spoke with CNN earlier today.

(SOUNDBITE OF CNN RECORDING)

BRETT ANDERSON: He's into camping. He could be anywhere. That's why people that are going out to different camp spots, please keep your eyes open. I don't care where it is. I just have no clue. Like I said, it's surreal to me. I can't imagine this even happening, and I'm just kind of taking it day by day and hoping for the best.

YOUNG: Kate Mather, of the Los Angeles Times, is in Santee, California. And Kate, there are reports, including from friends of Hannah, that DiMaggio told her he had a crush on her despite their age difference. You've been talking to his neighbors. What do they say?

KATE MATHER: The neighbors who I spoke to yesterday said it sounds cliche, but that he seems like a very normal, nice person. Many said that they didn't know him too well. They would wave to him when he would get his mail or pick up his paper or drive down the street. The neighbors said that they did notice the kids there, the kids that visit, the Anderson children that is, would visit a couple of times a month. And many people in the neighborhood who had kids or grandkids that would stay with them on their own said their kids or grandkids would go over and play with the Andersons when they were in town.

YOUNG: Yeah. Well, much have been made of the amber alert, California statewide cell phone alert system because it came in the middle of the night on Sunday. People say it frightened them, and it didn't give them enough information. How are people responding now given the severity of the situation?

MATHER: I think a lot of the response - it was the first time an amber alert had been sent via text message to phones in California, so I think a lot of people were initially surprised, and like you said, many felt that there wasn't a lot of information sent to their cell phones. But I think overall the more people we talk to, they said, you know, initially, they were startled. Initially, they were a little bothered by the noise that came from their phone. But by the time they realized the severity of the situation and what was actually going on, they said they didn't mind the alert because there was obviously something bigger going on.

YOUNG: And just briefly, how are people responding to this story? It's been pretty gripping.

MATHER: It has been pretty gripping, and I think it's one of those things that the more details that come out and the longer that it takes, people are more and more focused on it, and especially since Hannah is still out there, people are trying to pay attention and hoping for the best for this girl.

YOUNG: Kate Mather of the Los Angeles Times on the manhunt that's going on the West Coast. Kate, thanks so much.

MATHER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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