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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Kidnapped: The Rescue Of Hannah Anderson

Aired August 24, 2013 - 20:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. This hour, the kidnapping and rescue of Hannah Anderson.

Hannah, of course, is a California teen police say was abducted three weeks ago by a family friend; hours after, the man killed her mother and brother. After a multistate manhunt, she was rescued in the Idaho wilderness, her kidnapper shot and killed.

Today, Hannah stepped into a crowded church to pray for her mother and brother at a public memorial service.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC PLAYING, "AMAZING GRACE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's only for a while that we must part, so bless the memories within your heart. I won't be far away, for life goes on. So if you need me, call, and I will come.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we celebrate funeral masses for those who die a natural death, we choose scripture readings that bring us consolation and comfort. But for the deaths of Tina and Ethan, there are no easy words. We struggle with deaths like this, because they are not right. They are an abomination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will miss them forever. We will always remember them and ask, what could have been?

After all, this was a national tragedy. It has been very painful. It has been an unending pain and sorrow. I can say that it has been and still is the very worst tragedy to befall our entire heritage as a family.

Father, I believe that our prayers were answered for the safe return of our Hannah. Thank you, Jesus.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And after the service, our Stephanie Elam got a chance to speak with two of Hannah Anderson's closest family members. Stephanie joins me now from Santee, California.

Stephanie, tell us about your interview.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was really moving to sit and watch this family come together, Don, and put their arms around Hannah. She sat between her two grandparents and listened. After the ceremony was over, I had a chance to sit down with her grandmother, Sarah Britt, she is the mother of Christina, who passed away, and also Sarah's brother, Hannah's uncle, David Braun.

And they wanted to paint for us just how much this meant for the family. Keep in mind, it's been three weeks now since they first lost their family members to when they were actually able to say goodbye. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH BRITT, HANNAH ANDERSON'S GRANDMOTHER: We've had to put our grief aside for this day. And it was very uplifting, and my daughter would have just thoroughly loved it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you know, Ethan was so handsome. Full of spirit. Loved football. She was a devoted mother, and a wonderful person to have in our family.

DAVID BRAUN, HANNAH'S UNCLE: The prayers that went out from far and wide, I mean, there's a megachurch in Tampa that Roy Wilcox called me, he says, you've got a lot of prayers with you on this. And they were answered with her becoming safe out of this whole tragedy, because I think we all kind of foregone the conclusion, because this was the anniversary date of something his father did.

BRITT: But we never gave up.

BRAUN: No. Absolutely not.

BRITT: Practically raised her, so, you know, we'll just go back into the same old mode, and one day at a time. You know, raising a 16- year-old full-time is going to be a little different. But --

BRAUN: Yes.

BRITT: But she's a great kid. And --

BRAUN: Yes.

BRITT: She is strong. We're all strong. And one day at a time will do it. Going to get her involved in, you know -- she wants to be a firefighter. We're going to get her into the explorer program and just do all the things that, you know, the goals that she had, and follow through.

ELAM: With the family behind her. So she is going to stay with you?

BRITT: Yes, for a while.

BRAUN: I'm grateful for that.

BRITT: Yes.

BRAUN: Very.

BRITT: Yes.

ELAM: Will give her some stability.

BRITT: Yes. I think so, for sure. And my daughter would like it that way.

BRAUN: We're very comfortable if that's the outcome here.

BRITT: Right. And thank you again for all of you for finding her. Bringing her home to us.

BRITT: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: And they were very strong all together as a family in how they're going to support Hannah and how they were talking about Hannah. They say that is their number one goal right now, Don.

LEMON: Steph, we noticed Hannah walking around the sanctuary today. She seemed to be in reasonably good spirits.

Was that the case all day long?

ELAM: No. You know, before the ceremony started, she definitely was smiling and greeting people and giving lots of hugs, at one point she was walking around with a baby. And there seemed to be some of her classmates that were in the back of the church and she was greeting them as well.

But I noticed at the end of the ceremony, as things were winding down, the look on her face, it seemed like she had been hit with the weight of what they were there for and she seemed to be feeling it at the same time.

I noticed her grandmother kept her arm around her, kept rubbing her back and she walked out between her grandparents and lots of hugs. But I think as the cameras go away, as life goes back to normal, there's going to be a lot of time where she's going to need people to hold her hand a little bit as she gets through this, Don.

LEMON: Stephanie Elam in Santee, California for us this evening. Thank you, Stephanie.

Coming up here on CNN, CNN's Miguel Marquez takes us back to the beginning of the story from the first Amber Alert to the moment Hannah Anderson was rescued.

(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.

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

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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."

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. This hour, the kidnapping and rescue of Hannah Anderson.

Hannah, of course, is a California teen police say was abducted three weeks ago by a family friend; hours after, the man killed her mother and brother. After a multistate manhunt, she was rescued in the Idaho wilderness, her kidnapper shot and killed.

Today, Hannah stepped into a crowded church to pray for her mother and brother at a public memorial service.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC PLAYING, "AMAZING GRACE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's only for a while that we must part, so bless the memories within your heart. I won't be far away, for life goes on. So if you need me, call, and I will come.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we celebrate funeral masses for those who die a natural death, we choose scripture readings that bring us consolation and comfort. But for the deaths of Tina and Ethan, there are no easy words. We struggle with deaths like this, because they are not right. They are an abomination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will miss them forever. We will always remember them and ask, what could have been?

After all, this was a national tragedy. It has been very painful. It has been an unending pain and sorrow. I can say that it has been and still is the very worst tragedy to befall our entire heritage as a family.

Father, I believe that our prayers were answered for the safe return of our Hannah. Thank you, Jesus.

(MUSIC PLAYING) (END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And after the service, our Stephanie Elam got a chance to speak with two of Hannah Anderson's closest family members. Stephanie joins me now from Santee, California.

Stephanie, tell us about your interview.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was really moving to sit and watch this family come together, Don, and put their arms around Hannah. She sat between her two grandparents and listened. After the ceremony was over, I had a chance to sit down with her grandmother, Sarah Britt, she is the mother of Christina, who passed away, and also Sarah's brother, Hannah's uncle, David Braun.

And they wanted to paint for us just how much this meant for the family. Keep in mind, it's been three weeks now since they first lost their family members to when they were actually able to say goodbye. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH BRITT, HANNAH ANDERSON'S GRANDMOTHER: We've had to put our grief aside for this day. And it was very uplifting, and my daughter would have just thoroughly loved it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you know, Ethan was so handsome. Full of spirit. Loved football. She was a devoted mother, and a wonderful person to have in our family.

DAVID BRAUN, HANNAH'S UNCLE: The prayers that went out from far and wide, I mean, there's a megachurch in Tampa that Roy Wilcox called me, he says, you've got a lot of prayers with you on this. And they were answered with her becoming safe out of this whole tragedy, because I think we all kind of foregone the conclusion, because this was the anniversary date of something his father did.

BRITT: But we never gave up.

BRAUN: No. Absolutely not.

BRITT: Practically raised her, so, you know, we'll just go back into the same old mode, and one day at a time. You know, raising a 16- year-old full-time is going to be a little different. But --

BRAUN: Yes.

BRITT: But she's a great kid. And --

BRAUN: Yes.

BRITT: She is strong. We're all strong. And one day at a time will do it. Going to get her involved in, you know -- she wants to be a firefighter. We're going to get her into the explorer program and just do all the things that, you know, the goals that she had, and follow through. ELAM: With the family behind her. So she is going to stay with you?

BRITT: Yes, for a while.

BRAUN: I'm grateful for that.

BRITT: Yes.

BRAUN: Very.

BRITT: Yes.

ELAM: Will give her some stability.

BRITT: Yes. I think so, for sure. And my daughter would like it that way.

BRAUN: We're very comfortable if that's the outcome here.

BRITT: Right. And thank you again for all of you for finding her. Bringing her home to us.

BRITT: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: And they were very strong all together as a family in how they're going to support Hannah and how they were talking about Hannah. They say that is their number one goal right now, Don.

LEMON: Steph, we noticed Hannah walking around the sanctuary today. She seemed to be in reasonably good spirits.

Was that the case all day long?

ELAM: No. You know, before the ceremony started, she definitely was smiling and greeting people and giving lots of hugs, at one point she was walking around with a baby. And there seemed to be some of her classmates that were in the back of the church and she was greeting them as well.

But I noticed at the end of the ceremony, as things were winding down, the look on her face, it seemed like she had been hit with the weight of what they were there for and she seemed to be feeling it at the same time.

I noticed her grandmother kept her arm around her, kept rubbing her back and she walked out between her grandparents and lots of hugs. But I think as the cameras go away, as life goes back to normal, there's going to be a lot of time where she's going to need people to hold her hand a little bit as she gets through this, Don.

LEMON: Stephanie Elam in Santee, California for us this evening. Thank you, Stephanie.

Coming up here on CNN, CNN's Miguel Marquez takes us back to the beginning of the story from the first Amber Alert to the moment Hannah Anderson was rescued.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ (voice-over): It was going to be a normal summer weekend for the Andersons. Pop Warner football for 8-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 some time.

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 (voice-over): For Hannah and Ethan, the cabin had always been lots of fun. Brett 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 (voice-over): 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, FRIEND OF JIM DIMAGGIO: The relationship was crucial to him.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Andrew Spanswick was a friend of DiMaggio's.

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

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 hambone 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 (voice-over): 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, look what I got. Now it's your turn.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And despite an eight-year age difference, Ethan and Hannah were very close.

WILLIS: They were inseparable and have been since they were little. She always took care of Ethan and stuff while Mom was at work and walked him to and from school, all those things.

And Mom, 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 bit 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 (voice-over): 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 o'clock, but at the same time Ethan and Hannah were last seen near Lakeside. A day later, on August 4th --

JOHN FRANCOIS, BATTALION CHIEF: About 8 o'clock we get dispatched to a structure fire in the town of Boulevard.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): John Francois, battalion chief.

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

MARQUEZ: The fire was huge and dangerous.

FRANCOIS: It's an intense firefight that's fully involved house. There's a lot of stuff in the house that's going off.

They heard, like, pops and didn't know if it was small arms ammunition going off. There was a lot of snap, pop, crackle going off. They had to worry about propane tanks exploding.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): DiMaggio's cabin was ablaze, and so was the garage. Firefighters investigated.

FRANCOIS: 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 (voice-over): Later, another charred body was found in the house.

By Monday morning, 45 miles west of the cabin, Tina's family had grown concerned.

WILLIS: I got a call from my sister, and said we have a family emergency, you need to get over here right away.

I'm coming to get you.

And we got there. And they told us that Jim's house burned down, and we didn't know where Tina was. And Ethan hadn't made it to practice, and we knew he wouldn't miss it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Also suspicious, Tina was totally off the grid.

WILLIS: And so the bells went off when she didn't show up at work, and people were calling around, hadn't heard from her since Saturday.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Something was terribly wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a picture of our suspect. His name is James Lee DiMaggio. He is believed to be driving a blue Nissan Versa.

This is a picture of Hannah Anderson. She is a white female, 16 years old, about 5'7".

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A manhunt began that would span five states and three countries.

BALDWIN: This manhunt has now stretched into Mexico.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Critical hours and days slip by as the manhunt continued.

RON HOSKO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI: The response time to reports of a missing child is, we think, critical to success. We know that as every minute passes, there is a greater likelihood of harm, and sadly, greater likelihood of fatality.

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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): Coming up, signs that 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 (voice-over): 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 a big group of friends.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 parents 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): A teenage DiMaggio became more than just a brother to his younger sister.

SPANSWICK: Jim had taken on this fatherly role with Laura when she was abandoned by -- pretty much by her father and her mother had died.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 had stuck around for me and wanted to take me away from my mom and give me a good life.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 ending 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, or it was between classes, before lunch, saying his father was out and he'd be waiting for me after school.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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.

BRENDAN FAMBROUGH, HANNAH ANDERSON'S COUSIN: If I had kids, I would have trusted him with mine. And that's just -- it's just so unreal.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Hannah Anderson's cousin, Brendan FAMBROUGH, says DiMaggio was trusted like family. Little did they realize, he was potentially a ticking time bomb.

FAMBROUGH: You almost feel like, you know, I don't know, just everything was fake when you were with him. It's just crazy, because he was a pretty genuine guy.

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.

SPANSWICK: The Anderson family wasn't a perfect nuclear family. The father was in Tennessee often, and traveled, had problems with employment.

The mother had -- I hate to speak this way about somebody who is deceased, but it was not the ideal family. And I think that Jim related to the kids feeling neglected, and it was -- it just brought up all those feelings again, and he wanted to provide for these children like he hadn't been provided for.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): David Braun is Christina Anderson's uncle and remembers the separation quite differently.

BRAUN: I think that's where this fellow maybe moved in on Tina a little bit. But he was a trusted family friend and he took the kids to practice, picked them up, was helping Tina out. I could see where they were all manipulated to trust whatever he had to say or do.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): No one wanted to rock the boat. Christina needed help with the kids. And she trusted 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 (voice-over): 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."

Hannah didn't really say anything. She kind of just was quiet after that. Then once we got home, she texted me like, well, that was weird. She was just like creeped out by it, if anything. It was weird.

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 (voice-over): But she didn't. And in the end of June, Hannah even agreed to go to Hollywood for a week with Jim DiMaggio 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 still, 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 (voice-over): They were supposed to go away for a week, but came back a couple of 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.

CHAVEZ: He would just, I guess, get jealous over little things. If she was ever on her phone or -- so she said that when he would ask her questions, she would take a second to respond or something and he just got frustrated because he wanted her to pay attention and stuff. And he was trying to give her a fun trip.

SPANSWICK: The things that he would get upset, 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 (voice-over): 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 the insurance wouldn't replace. He had some financial problems, and he felt isolated. And he had begun to complain a little bit about being depressed.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 RIDER: So I 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.

Well, it's just one of them deals where it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

MARK JOHN: Well, he said he was going to the Salmon River. Well, he was going in the wrong direction to go to the Salmon River. So we didn't say anymore. We rode on down the trail.

We rode a little bit further, and here's a tent sitting on top of the highest ridge in that range of mountains. It made a perfect lightning rod right now. We have thunderstorms rolling through here all the time. So we rode on by, and we kind of discussed that also.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Johns and Youngs fished at Morehead Lake, then readied the horses for the ride home.

MARK JOHN: We got them all saddled up, 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 (voice-over): Krista John 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. And it just wouldn't leave our minds. It just didn't leave our minds at all.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And as soon as they returned home that evening, they realized their instincts were right.

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

MARQUEZ (voice-over): They had just come face to face with a killer and his captive, Hannah Anderson.

MARK JOHN: Anyway, 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 haired 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. I had a friend that used to work for me when I was a sheriff and he was a state police patrolman.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Ralph Powell is director of the Idaho State Police.

RALPH POWELL, DIRECTOR, IDAHO STATE POLICE: The Idaho State Police trooper that he calls, Corporal Nesbitt (ph), says you realize if I call this in, that the world will converge on Cascade, Idaho. I have to ask you: are you sure?

And he says, I am sure these are the two people. This is your Amber Alert.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): It was the strongest lead yet

FAMBROUGH: It was the most amazing news we have heard so far. There was all the sightings before. And, you know, you really hope that that was, in fact, them. But a confirmed sighting is all we really have right now. And it means everything.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): But Hannah's family was still fearful knowing that the man Hannah once called Uncle Jim was capable of tremendous violence.

WILLIS: Scared every minute. Every minute. I don't know what he'll do.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): With Mark John's help, authorities could pinpoint the exact location Hannah and DiMaggio were last seen. Deep inside a wilderness area called the River of No Return.

Andrea Dearden is 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: The other thing about this vast wilderness area, it is dotted with rivers and lakes just about everywhere. Fresh water. If one wanted to survive out here, you could.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): But even though DiMaggio could easily hide, authorities knew he couldn't run.

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

MARQUEZ (voice-over): But authorities could move quickly. In just 30 minutes after meeting with Mark John, they found another clue: DiMaggio's car, hidden under piles of brush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're traveling slowly along this forest service road, and way off into the woods he catches just a glimpse, just a split second, a red flash, and caught the reflective lens of a tail lamp.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): On Saturday, August 10th, seven days after Hannah went missing, the FBI assembled an army of specially trained agents.

GORE: The FBI sent people from three field offices and their hostage rescue team out of Washington, D.C. U.S. Marshals had resources. We sent homicide and child abuse investigators and some of our evidence technicians.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 FLEER, which is a system used largely by military. They were able to describe everything from this is how she is dressed, she has her hair in a bun.

Ron Hosko is the assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.

HOSKO: We have video feeds. We can see much in almost real time. As we were observing, 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; you heard someone say, "A cat." 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, OK. She's alive. Let's do this.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Next, two FBI hostage rescue teams were dropped from helicopters deep into the woods. They hiked two hours to DiMaggio's camp, 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 100 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 (voice-over): 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so glad she's safe! (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's OK. She's such a strong girl.

BRETT ANDERSON: As for my daughter, the healing process will be slow. She has been through a tremendous, horrific ordeal. I am very proud of her, and I love her very much.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Coming up, lingering questions and conflict as the Anderson family tries to move on.

STANSWICK: We had heard this leak of the neighbors saying that potentially there was a relationship between Jim and Christine.

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MARQUEZ (voice-over): By August 15th, Hannah Anderson was home in the protective care of her friends and family, but her whole world had changed.

WILLIS: It's an hour-by-hour process for her. She's got a lot of healing to do. She's with her dad.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Jennifer Willis is Hannah's aunt.

WILLIS: When I saw her, you know, she showed me her toenails. She had one painted for Mom and one painted for Ethan. And 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 (voice-over): Two days after her rescue, Hannah, like a lot of teenagers, started sharing her story online. She said she feared for her life.

"He had a gun and threatened to kill me and anyone who tried to help," that she's "glad DiMaggio's dead." "He deserved what he got," and that she wishes she'd done more for her mom and Ethan.

"I'm sorry it ended like that. 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."

Then on Instagram, a message of hope and healing.

"God gives his toughest tasks to the strongest soldiers."

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MARQUEZ (voice-over): But taking the discussion online brought mixed results from myriad messages of support, "Stay strong and know that many are praying for you," to speculation and skepticism.

"Why are you talking about this on social media?" "Are you sure you're a victim? You seem completely fine about it."

Hannah told NBC that posting online seemed only natural.

HANNAH ANDERSON, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: It just helps me grieve, like post pictures and to show how I'm feeling.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): But the results stung.

HANNAH ANDERSON: I didn't know people could be so cruel.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): On the "Today" show, she also addressed some of the lingering issues, like the 13 phone calls with DiMaggio the day she disappeared.

HANNAH ANDERSON: The phone calls weren't phone calls. They were texts because he was picking me up from cheer camp, and he didn't know the address.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And the letters from her found in DiMaggio's house.

HANNAH ANDERSON: And the letters were from like a year ago when me and my mom weren't getting along very well, me and him would talk about how to deal with it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Christina's family has questions of their own, for her husband, Brett.

BRAUN: I'm not happy with Brett.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Christina was Dave Braun's niece.

BRAUN: I'd like to ask Mr. Brett, what did you know about DiMaggio, and when did you know it?

Did it all just come out now after 16 years? And you walked out and went away, had to go to work, and you left this man in charge of your wife and two children?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Braun also couldn't help but wonder when DiMaggio began making his secret plans for Hannah.

BRAUN: I think he groomed Hannah, as a father figure, as a confidante. And I think he groomed this whole thing to happen.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Authorities, too, were beginning to see signs of premeditation, like a Walmart bag found discarded on an Idaho roadside.

POWELL: Now, inside the Walmart bag is a receipt.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Ralph Powell is the director of the Idaho state police.

POWELL: Also in the bag are two MREs and one of those head lamps. The date on the receipt is before the abduction date, before the date that the house caught on fire. It's before the kidnapping, which means this is premeditated.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And officials found a timed device, used to start the fire.

STANSWICK: They also said that it was a very sophisticated incendiary device that lit the house on fire, which is very confusing for us, because Jim couldn't work the remote control.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Andrew Spanswick is friend and spokesman for the DiMaggio family.

STANSWICK: The family obviously doesn't know what's going on. What we don't know is almost more interesting than what we do know.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): For both families at the center of this tragedy, there is plenty that doesn't add up.

STANSWICK: There was an insurance policy for $112,000. In 2011, it was -- the beneficiary was named, and the beneficiary is Brett Anderson's mother, the grandmother of Hannah and Ethan.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And, says Spanswick, before 2011, the beneficiary had been Jim's sister, Laura, a fact that fueled even more speculation.

Could Jim have fathered Ethan or Hannah?

SPANSWICK: We had heard this leak of the neighbors saying that potentially there was a relationship between Jim and Christine. And that's when Laura had a knee-jerk reaction.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A knee-jerk reaction to consider a DNA screening for paternity using samples Laura already had.

SPANSWICK: She has blood and hair samples from Jim, James DiMaggio, her brother. And she got that from the original coroner. And then she has a hair sample of Hannah from when she slept at her house fairly recently.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Though no paternity test has taken place, for Christina's family, the damage was already done.

BRAUN: First of all, it's a lie. It besmirched Tina and the two children. It's basically called them illegitimate. I mean, what more damage can they do to my family?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In a statement, Brett Anderson also dismissed the idea, saying Christina was pregnant with Hannah before they even met DiMaggio and that Brett Anderson's DNA was used to identify the body of his dead son, Ethan Anderson.

SPANSWICK: What was the motive? You know, why did he do this?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Spanswick says all anyone wants are answers. SPANSWICK: Nobody can understand how it -- what a bizarre case this has been. A guy out in the woods with a cat, with a girl, a house burning down, all these crazy stories. There needs to be some closure.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Closure for two families still reeling from incomprehensible tragedy.

On NBC, Hannah remembered her mother.

HANNAH ANDERSON: She was strong-hearted and very tough. She knew how to handle things.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And her brother, Ethan.

HANNAH ANDERSON: He had a really big heart. And...

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And had a new way of thinking about all she had been through.

HANNAH ANDERSON: In the beginning, I was a victim. But now knowing everyone out there is helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead.

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LEMON: And stay with CNN as we continue to follow the story of Hannah Anderson. I'm Don Lemon. Good night.

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