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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Kidnapped: The Rescue Of Hannah Anderson

Aired August 18, 2013 - 18:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper.

For nearly two weeks the story of Hannah Anderson has captured the attention of the nation. It is a story of betrayal by a devoted family friend, a thousand-mile cross country pursuit by hundreds of law enforcement agents, and a dramatic shoot out in the dense Idaho wilderness. Tonight, the inside story. Hear from friends, family, and the people who helped save an innocent young girl.

Miguel Marquez reports, KIDNAPPED: THE RESCUE OF HANNAH ANDERSON.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What began with fire became murder and manhunt.

The level of intensity in this investigation is incredible.

A best friend turned worst enemy.

BRETTT ANDERSON, HANNAH'S FATHER: This gentleman who was a friend of ours for a long time has taken everything.

MARQUEZ: Hundreds in desperate pursuit of one teen in grave danger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Amber Alert was on and I see a picture of this blonde haired girl. I said, that's the girl we seen up on the mountain.

MARQUEZ: KIDNAPPED: THE RESCUE OF HANNAH ANDERSON.

It was going to be a normal summer weekend for the Andersons. Pop Warner football for eight-year-old Ethan. Cheerleading practice for 16-year-old Hannah. A road trip with the dog and mom, Christina, to Jim DiMaggio's house. He had been asking the Andersons to visit for sometime.

BILL GORE, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SHERIFF: They were getting together for some type of family gathering.

MARQUEZ: Bill gore is San Diego county sheriff.

GORE: Jim led people to believe he was going to be losing his house, and this was going to be kind of a farewell party at his house.

MARQUEZ: For Hannah and Ethan, the cabin had always been lots of fun. Brettt Anderson is their father and Christina's husband.

BRETT ANDERSON: The kids, even myself when I was in San Diego, would go up there and stay the night, and we'd ride a go-cart or do whatever, you know. Being like camping out because of his cabin.

MARQUEZ: The man they called Uncle Jim, one of Brett's best friends, had known the kids since they were born.

JENNIFER WILLIS, FRIEND OF CHRISTINA ANDERSON: Jim was a very good friend of the family.

MARQUEZ: Jennifer Willis and Christina grew up like sisters. Jen and Tina, both part of a big and boisterous extended family.

WILLIS: He spent time with us and we loved him. He was fun. He was a great guy. Tina was a good friend to him, and he had been with her and our entire family for many, many years while the kids were growing up. And so I know she was always there for him as he had been for her.

ANDREW SPANSWICK (ph), FRIEND OF JIM DIMAGGIO: The relationship was crucial to him.

MARQUEZ: Andrew Spanswick was a friend of DiMaggio's.

SPANSWICK (ph): He had no other family so I think he had to find a surrogate family, and that's what he did.

MARQUEZ: For 16 years DiMaggio was part of the Anderson family, even helping out with the kids when Brett took a job in Tennessee.

BRETT ANDERSON: He would help get my son to football practice on days that Hannah had dance or whatever. And he was constantly there for me.

MARQUEZ: And constantly there with the kids. Hannah was a typical teen.

WILLIS: She's a little shy, a little bit of a ham bone at the same time. She got an award at school, mirror worshipper. She is my pinky pal. We have a little pinky pal handshake that we do. She just started Pop Warner cheer, I think this was her second year because Ethan was playing football for Pop Warner. And she was going to be the cheerleader for his team.

MARQUEZ: Eight-year-old Ethan loved football and even more, fishing.

WILLIS: I love to fish. Little E. and I went about a month ago fishing at Lake Jennings. He was putting the worms on for me because they wrinkle up and are gross. And I just remember him saying, Aunt Jen, I'll take care of that for you. I'll do that. I can do that. You don't have to touch those. He'd get the fish out of the water. Look, Aunt Jen what I got. Now it's your turn.

MARQUEZ: And Tina, she was always there to help whether a sick family member or a friend that needed cheering up like Jim.

WILLIS: She was tired. She was busy. She had a lot going on and it was something that was a little difficult for her to squeeze into her busy schedule. But that's the kind of person she was, and she did that for Jim, to go up there and help comfort him in this time that he had begged for her help.

MARQUEZ: Tina, Ethan, and Hannah had no idea uncle Jim had other plans.

Saturday afternoon, august 3rd. Hannah and Jim DiMaggio exchanged 13 calls before both phones were turned off. It was 4:00, but the same time, Ethan and Hannah were last seen there lakeside. A day later, on August 4th --

JOHN FRANCIOS, BATTALION CHIEF: About 8:00 we get dispatched to a structure fire in the town of Boulevard.

MARQUEZ: John Francois, battalion chief.

FRANCIOS: There's not one piece of that house that's not on fire.

MARQUEZ: DiMaggio's cabin was ablaze, and so was the garage. Firefighters investigated.

FRANCIOS: So they went into the detached garage looking for any fire extension, and during that search, they came across a body in that garage.

MARQUEZ: Andrew Spanswick believes his friend was dead.

SPANSWICK (ph): We were sort of grieving the death of Jim and waiting for confirmation it was Jim that had died in the house.

MARQUEZ: But it wasn't Jim.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking today, you have an Amber Alert out West. It's a horrible situation. A raging fire just east of San Diego, and then a woman and child found dead inside.

MARQUEZ: The woman was Tina and the child Ethan. They had been beaten, bloodied, then burned. In the ashes of DiMaggio's home, authorities found arson wire, a handwritten note, ammunition, and letters from Hannah. Days later, speaking exclusively to CNN's Chris Cuomo, Brett Anderson was distraught.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Tell me about your kids, Mr. Anderson. Tell me about Hannah. Tell me about Ethan.

BRETT ANDERSON: Give me a second.

Ethan wore his heart on his sleeve. He would give -- do anything for anybody. Loved everybody. He was just my buddy.

MARQUEZ: Just like Tina was Jim buddy.

WILLIS: She was here at this exact table two weeks ago playing board games. And so that Monday was the last time I saw her. And I've kept her texts. Because I can't -- I don't want to let go of the last little funny things that we talked about.

MARQUEZ: And Hannah, she had disappeared.

BALDWIN: New information in to CNN suggests that only Hannah Anderson may have been abducted.

MARQUEZ: A man hunt began that would span five states and three countries.

BALDWIN: This manhunt has now stretched into Mexico.

MARQUEZ: Critical hours and days slip by as the manhunt continued.

GORE: We didn't know what was going to happen with her. Was his plan to run off? Was it going to be a murder-suicide?

MARQUEZ: August 6th. Three days after Hannah was last seen, Brett had an urgent message for his daughter.

BRETT ANDERSON: Hannah, we all love you very much. If you have a chance, you take it. You run. You'll be found.

MARQUEZ: Coming up, signs of the man Hannah calls Uncle Jim had crossed the line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were driving home and he just said that he had a crush on her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRETT ANDERSON: Jim, I'm begging you to let my daughter go. You've taken everything else.

MARQUEZ: August 6th, a father's desperate plea to a killer, a kidnapper, and a once very close friend.

SPANSWICK: He was sort of the guy in the middle of the group of friends.

MARQUEZ: Andrew Spanswick knew James DiMaggio and his sister for half a dozen years. He calls the technician at the Scripps Research Institute quite simply a normal guy.

SPANSWICK: He wasn't loud or outgoing, and he wasn't shy and retreative or isolative. He was very much just sort of the friendly guy that just was along for the ride but didn't really stick out one way or the other. There was nothing odd about him.

MARQUEZ: Or at least that is what everyone thought. DiMaggio grew up like the Andersons in the San Diego suburbs with his sister and mother. His parent were divorced, and his father was not a stable influence.

SPANSWICK: The father was a methamphetamine addict. Methamphetamine is a very cruel drug. It makes people delusional. It can make them violent. It can make them very abusive, both -- not just physically but also emotionally.

MARQUEZ: His friend says they were protected from some of it until their mother died. DiMaggio and his sister, Laura, ended up living with their father, a car salesman where they suffered years of abuse.

SPANSWICK: Jim was sort of abandoned with Laura by their father. The father would just leave them with macaroni and cheese and boxes of it, and Jim would go out and fish to catch fish to feed him and his sister.

MARQUEZ: By the late '80s DiMaggio was a high schooler here in El Cajon. One of his classmates had a chilling encounter with DiMaggio's father.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He told me at that time that he was in love with me and has stuck around for me and wanted to take me away from my mom and give me a good life.

MARQUEZ: After she refused, she says DiMaggio's dad broke into her house. Armed with a shotgun and handcuffs, threatening to kill her, her boyfriend, and her brother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Asked him to please not kill us and he said, don't worry. It'll be over quick.

MARQUEZ: She was able to escape. The elder DiMaggio was arrested; while out on bail he had more run-ins with the law. Eventually he ended up in prison. But he never forgot that young girl, and made sure his son let her know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Came up to me, I think it was third period, between classes, before lunch, saying his father was out and he'd be waiting for me after school.

A difficult childhood surrounded by drugs, violence, abuse, and ultimately suicide. DiMaggio's father killed himself on August 10th, 1995. Dark secrets DiMaggio hid from those around him, even the Anderson family.

WILLIS: Never heard a thing about any of that. We've been all shocked about this news. All of it. It's just horrible. And I feel sorry that he didn't get help. I wish that he had. Maybe this wouldn't have happened.

MARQUEZ: Maybe the Andersons wouldn't have allowed him to get so close, but they did. Especially earlier this year when Brett and Christina separated. Brett moved to Tennessee. Christina stayed alone in California with Hannah and Ethan.

David Braun is Christina Anderson's uncle.

DAVID BRAUN, CHRISTINA ANDERSON'S UNCLE: I think that's where this fellow maybe moved in on Tina a little bit.

MARQUEZ: Braun says some family members were slightly suspicious of why this divorced man spent so much time with the Andersons, especially the kids.

BRAUN: My brothers kind of wondered about this guy, because -- maybe not before but they -- kind of out of place with the family. But they didn't -- it's not their business. You know?

MARQUEZ: No one wanted to rock the boat. Christina needed help with the kids. And she trust DiMaggio like a brother.

WILLIS: She was very careful. A very protective mother. And she never would have let those kids be alone with him or anything if there were any sign, truly.

MARQUEZ: There was a sign, though, but Hannah kept it secret from everyone except her best friend Marisa Chavez.

MARISA CHAVEZ, HANNAH ANDERSON'S FRIEND: He just said that he had a crush on her and then he said, don't think I'm weird or creepy Uncle Jim. I just want you to know if you were my age, I'd date you.

WILLIS: She had never mentioned anything like that to any of the family. I know she wouldn't have wanted to hurt anyone, make anyone else not trust Jim. I really wish she had come to someone, trusted someone to say something.

MARQUEZ: But she didn't. And in the end of June, Hannah even agreed to go to Hollywood for a week with Jim to celebrate her 16th birthday. Just the two of them.

WILLIS: Some of us kind of felt oh, that's kind of weird, a little bit weird. But given that Jim has been part of the family for so long, not super out of place. And we all trusted him, but as Hannah got older, it was a little weird.

I mentioned it and like I said, she said, well she's been on vacations with him before. It's Uncle Jim.

MARQUEZ: They were supposed to go away for a week, but came back a couple days early. According to Marisa, Jim was angry. Hannah spent a lot of time talking on the phone, messaging friends and posting pictures on the Internet.

SPANSWICK: The things he would get upset with looking back on it were things like people not paying attention or people being on their phone inappropriately. That was very typical for Jim that he would want respect as an adult and as a father figure. You know, he tried very hard to maintain that role at all times.

MARQUEZ: By August, yet another sign.

WILLIS: He had lost a tremendous amount of weight, so he looked completely different. That worried me a little bit. Kind of wasn't the same cheerful guy. More quiet. More reserved. Thin. Didn't understand. He was so thin. I know he worked out all the time, and I just didn't understand why so thin. That worried me.

SPANSWICK: I think he was desperate. He had had several losses in his life recently. He had a favorite car that had crashed and the insurance wouldn't replace it. He had some financial problems, and he felt isolated. And he had begun to complain a little bit about being depressed.

MARQUEZ: A depression that potentially turned a normal guy into a killer and kidnapper.

SPANSWICK: He obviously broke down and couldn't handle it anymore and snapped, so to speak.

MARQUEZ: Now the race was on to find him. Before he took another life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had every reason to believe that he was likely armed, certainly dangerous.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ: Four days after Jim DiMaggio kidnapped Hannah Anderson, the two were nowhere to be found. The case was growing cold until Mark John, a former sheriff and his wife stumbled, Krista, upon two hikers while horseback riding with friends in the mountains near Cascade, Idaho. MARK JOHN, FORMER SHERIFF: They had tennis shoes on. They had what looked like pajama bottoms. And that's just like a square peg going in a round hole. They just didn't fit there.

MARQUEZ: A man and young girl hiking in the Idaho wilderness out of place and unprepared. Mike and Mary Young were riding with the Johns.

MIKE YOUNG, HORSEBACK RIDERI think we caught them kind of by surprise. She had a real look of fear on her face. When I looked at him, I didn't like what I seen there. Just one of them deals where it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

MARQUEZ: The Johns and Youngs fished at Morehead Lake, then readied the horses for the ride home.

MARK JOHN: We started to ride out and looked up, and there they were. He was standing on the side of the bank, and he was holding the cat in his arm and stroking it like that. And I asked him, what are you doing with the cat? He just kind of looked at me. I said, you know, they'll bring a wolf or a mountain lion into your camp real quick.

MARQUEZ: Krista Johns sensed the girl was in trouble and wanted to approach her.

KRISTA JOHN, HORSEBACK RIDER: And Mark says, no. Just stay here. So we just rode out. It just wouldn't leave our minds. It just didn't leave our minds at all.

MARQUEZ: And as soon as they returned home that evening, their realized their instincts were right.

BALDWIN: Police are looking for a man named DiMaggio, James DiMaggio.

MARQUEZ: They had just come face to face with a killer and his captive, Hannah Anderson.

MARK JOHN: I came back in the house and happened to look up at the television, and the Amber Alert was on. And I see a picture of this blonde hair girl. I hollered to the wife. I said, that's the girl we seen up on the mountain. So we talked it over, and I called the state police right then.

MARQUEZ: Ralph Powell is director of the Idaho State Police.

RALPH POWELL, DIRECTOR, IDAHO STATE POLICE: He says I am sure these are the two people. This is your Amber Alert.

MARQUEZ: It was the strongest lead yet, and the Johns could point to the area they spotted Hannah and DiMaggio on a map. Deep inside a wilderness area called the River of No Return. Andrea Dearden is the public information officer for the Valley County Sheriff's Office.

ANDREA DEARDEN, PIO, VALLEY COUNTY SHERIFF: This is mountainous. It's steep. It's rugged. There are peaks, there are rocks, not a lot of flat land at all. There is no road access in. You cannot drive on this land.

MARQUEZ: If you ever thing (ph) about this vast wilderness area, it is dotted with lakes just about everywhere. Fresh water. If one wanted to survive out here, you could.

But even though DiMaggio could easily hide, authorities knew he couldn't run.

DEARDEN: The terrain certainly made it a challenge, but it also helped us because this isn't an area that you can get across quickly.

MARQUEZ: But authorities could move quickly. Just 30 minutes after meeting the Johns, they had another clue. DiMaggio's car, hidden under piles of brush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, they're traveling slowly along this forest service road, and way off into the woods he catches a -- just a glimpse, just a split second, a red flash, and caught the reflective lens of a tail lamp just as their patrol car was in that exact place.

MARQUEZ: On Saturday, August 10th, seven days after Hannah went missing, the FBI assembled an army of specially trained agents. First, they had to pinpoint Hannah and DiMaggio's exact location from the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This wasn't just a regular plane. This is a plane equipped with a system used largely by military. They were able to describe everything from this how she is dressed, she has her hair in a bun.

RON HOSKO, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGAIVE DIVISION: As we were observing at least at one point Hannah, we saw Hannah waving a brightly colored cloth toward the sky so as to signal us.

DEARDEN: I remember being in the command center at the time, and a few minutes later you heard someone say, and a cat. And we had heard from the horseback riders that these two had a cat with them. Not something you normally see in Idaho back country on a camping trip. So, when we heard that, I can remember thinking, okay. That's them. And she's alive. And let's do this.

MARQUEZ: Next, two FBI hostage rescue teams were dropped from helicopters deep into the woods. A two-hour hike to DiMaggio's camp. They quietly surrounded it and waited for the perfect chance.

DEARDEN: Those two hours were pretty tense. We had every reason to believe that he was likely armed, certainly dangerous.

HOSKO: I think there were a hundred or more feet between DiMaggio and Hannah at the time that tactical activity started. And that distance was increasing.

GORE: They infiltrated and Jim DiMaggio had a rifle. He fired it once, and the second time he fired, he was killed probably instantly by the FBI hostage rescue team.

MARQUEZ: It was over. DiMaggio was dead 18 years to the day after his father committed suicide. And one week after she was taken, Hannah Anderson was rescued.

DEARDEN: This was, you know, started essentially in earnest yesterday morning. And today, less than 36 hours later she is home, or she is safe. Hannah is safe, and that was the best outcome that we were hoping for.

BRETT ANDERSON: She has been through a tremendous, horrific ordeal. I am very proud of her, and I love her very much.

MARQUEZ: Hannah was home, safe, and starting to heal.

WILLIS: It's an hour by hour process for her. She's got a lot of healing to do. She's with her dad. When I saw her, you know, she showed me her toenails. She had one painted for mom and one painted for Ethan. She was super excited about that. She had that cute little smile, and she gave me a hug. She didn't really talk too much about it. I just kind of let her lead.

MARQUEZ: Two days after her rescue, Hannah started talking as many kids her age do, online. She said, she feared for her life. "He had a gun and threatened to kill me and anyone who tried to help." And that she's glad he's dead. "He deserved what he got." Then on Instagram, a message of hope and healing. "God gives his toughest tasks to the strongest soldiers."

(END VIDEOTAPE)