A week after police rescued her from murder suspect James Lee DiMaggio in the Idaho wilderness, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson is trying to ease back into life at home, surrounded by family, friends and neighbors.
But it hasn't been easy, says her father, who appeared with his daughter at a car wash fundraiser Saturday at a church in Lakeside, Calif., east of San Diego, to benefit the kidnapping survivor and her family.
"It's very difficult. Every moment is difficult for her," Brett Anderson told reporters while asking for privacy for her and thanking friends and family for their support.
“It’s wonderful that [the community] is out here helping her. She just wanted to come out and thank these people personally,” he said.
The event at the Living Hope Christian Fellowship Church was organized by a neighbor of Hannah's late mother, Christina Anderson, NBC San Diego reported.
Wearing green shorts, a black tank top, sunglasses, her blonde hair in a bun and a black brace around her left knee, Hannah looked every bit the California teenager, despite the ordeal she suffered through at DiMaggio's hand.
As she walked up to friends and neighbors, Hannah hugged and thanked them.
Traci Paulson, one of the event organizers, said it was first time she had seen Hannah in person since her return to San Diego.
“It’s amazing to see her. It made my day,” Paulson said.
The money raised at the car wash will be donated to the Anderson family and will help cover funeral expenses for Hannah's mother and brother.
According to search warrants, investigators believe DiMaggio “tortured and killed” Christina Anderson, 44, and her son, Ethan, 8, then left them in his burning house in the community of Boulevard on Aug. 4 before kidnapping Hannah.
The man – a longtime friend of the Anderson family – fled San Diego with her, setting off a search that spanned six states and reached Canada and Mexico.
On Aug. 7, backcountry horseback riders stumbled upon Hannah and DiMaggio in a remote corner of the Idaho wilderness, a chance encounter that may have saved the girl's life.
A call to police from one of the riders after he saw the Amber Alert led investigators to DiMaggio's car, covered with brush. Soon after, searchers in helicopters spotted the duo's campsite near Morehead Lake in a remote area of Idaho known as the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
The girl's captivity came to a swift end Aug. 10 when DiMaggio 40, was killed by an FBI tactical agent during an arrest attempt.
Shot at least five times, DiMaggio died. Hannah was rescued and reunited with her grieving father.
The car wash Saturday was the second fundraiser held this week for the Anderson family.
On Thursday, a large fundraiser was held at a restaurant in Lakeside. In her first public appearance since her rescue, Hannah attended the event along with her family.
Brett Anderson issued a brief statement afterward, thanking the public for their support.
“Hannah sends her love. She’s doing good day by day. We’ll just keep moving forward from here," he said at the time. "We're just looking for her future and to get her settled."
NBC San Diego reported that some of the money raised will also help cover therapy for Hannah.
She has not spoken publicly about the six-day ordeal, but she did answer some questions on a social media site.
As she left Saturday's event with her father, she had one simple message for those who have offered their support: "Thank you."
First published August 17 2013, 5:54 PM