Dateline   |  August 23, 2013

The Rescue of Hannah Anderson, Part 1

When 16-year-old Hannah Anderson vanishes and her mother and 8-year-old brother are found murdered, law enforcement launch a multi-state search for an unlikely captor.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> way up beyond here in the wilderness country of idaho, there's a river that flows into this one with a nickname that goes back to the days of the explore explorers, lewis and clark . it's called the river of no return . it turned out to be all of that for one james dimaggio who made his last camp near the river of no return and didn't get out alive. his violent story regarded as a double homicide, kidnapping and manhunt as big as the west begins in the foothills of san diego county , california. boulevard, california, not much more than a wide spot on old highway 80 just north of the mexican border . a refuge for some from freeways fatigue. bill gore is the san diego county sheriff.

>> it's kind of out in the middle of nowhere . beautiful countryside in the mountains but very isolated.

>> and it was to boulevard up on ross avenue that firefighters were rolled out to a report of a log cabin on fire. that was the start of everything. august 4th , a sunday night about 8:00.

>> pretty quickly, i assume, you knew who the homeowner was.

>> we immediately identified james dimaggio as the homeowner.

>> the 40-year-old was single and worked in telecommunications at the scripps research institute .

>> he was the kind of person that was caring and thoughtful.

>> andrew spanswick says his friend jim was steady and relabel as they get.

>> he would always help anybody in need. not just people, but animals.

>> now it looked as though jim was the one who needed help in the worst way. his cabin was a tinderbox, gone. firefighters couldn't save it. and they quickly made a terrible discovery. a body.

>> we assumed that it was jim . we actually thought jim had died. we were sort of grieving the death of our friend.

>> but it wasn't jim dimaggio . firefighters had discovered the body of a woman.

>> the body was deceased. the victim in that structure has been identified as christina anderson .

>> christina anderson lived in a community called lakeside less than an hour's drive from boulevard. she was raising her two children, hannah , a teenager and her little brother ethan, a woman admired by her friend.

>> loving, involved, nurturing.

>> there wasn't a day that went by that it wasn't for the kids.

>> christina was 44 years old, separated for the last few months from her husband brett.

>> christina was a great mother, she really was and she was a good wife.

>> brett and jim dimaggio went way back together, 15 years as best of friend. he was like a second dad to the anderson kids. but now christina 's body was found near the smoldering char of the friend's ruined cabin. it was apparent she hadn't died in an accident. the dog was nearby shot o death.

>> there was premeditation, technology involved in starting the fire.

>>> arson, not to commit murder but to cover it up.

>> there appears to be a crowbar found next to the mother. next to christina 's body. can you confirm that?

>> yeah, i can confirm that and i will say --

>> this was a bludgeoning death.

>> there was extreme trauma to the body.

>> as they sifted through the rubble, they came across another bod, i a small one, definitely a child. thought to be the boy ethan.

>> it's not him. it can't be. i refuse to believe that it's him. it crushed my heart. it was horrible.

>> and the crime scene was about to get more confounding. if jim wasn't a victim of the fire and his blue any shan -- nissan was gone, where was hannah ?

>> we realized there's a 16-year-old girl missing too. that's when the real manhunt began.

>> hannah anderson was now a missing person and according to police, abducted on the same day her mother and brother were killed.

>> here's a picture of our suspect, his name is james lee dimaggio .

>> could such hands-on brutality be the work of a guy who punched the clock at the office and seemed to live for camping trips and his gray cat? nothing added to up to christina 's friend.

>> he was nice, he was pleasant. you would hope that you feel when somebody is not a good person. and we all missed it.

>> we did.

>> we all missed it.

>> with the fbi now involved, a massive search was under way and questions being asked in san diego that were about to echo across the nation. who was jim dimaggio ? why did he take teenage hannah ? and where were these two needles in a seemingly infinite number of haystacks?