Dateline | August 23, 2013
>> more you know.
>>> the horseback riders had with 99% certainty encountered the two in the back country.
>> i feel like all of us were sent here for a purpose. maybe this was just part of our ride.
>> following the riders' tip a rookie state trooper came up with a clincher. checking out a trail head, he caught a glint of reflective light under brush and tree limbs. he cleared away the branches and there it was. a cleverly concealed car with the vehicle identification number confirming it as dimaggio 's.
>> by that fry evening, scores of local, state and federal law enforcement officers were converging on cascade, idaho, 75 miles north of boise to set up a hostage rescue command post . among their numbers was san diego -based marshal steve german. with a much reduced search grid, dimaggio was still out in the wild. the u.s. marshall felt the clock ticking to get to the girl in time.
>> it was a dire situation. i really truly believe her live was in grave danger.
>> the marshals job that saturday morning, a full week now since hannah had disappeared, was to get in a small plane and look down from 5,000 feet for a sign of dimaggio and his captive. it was all timber, gray rocks, no one home at first.
>> it was a tremendous land mass that we're talking about. but very rugged terrain. so movement would have been very slow. we had that going to our advantage.
>> dimaggio and hannah were on foot in a vast wilderness with no roads out. but they had been spotted just three miles from the salmon river . whitewater rafters went down it every day. was it also a possible exit route for uncle jim and the teenager. ?
>> checkpoints were set up at the rafter's haul-out spots.
>> could they have made the river, could they have gotten on a raft? could they have made it to a highway down river and hitchhiked their way out?
>> the focal point was the mountain fishing area where the horseback riders run into the man and the teenager for the second time.
>> we circled morehead lake a couple times and just as we were getting ready to peel off of it, i thought i saw something on the north side . then it was like the light hit it just right and bam, there's a blue tent there.
>> a blue tent like the one the riders had seen. they had almost missed it. now they had a good hard look through their binoculars.
>> there's a male, blond fee may. then there's a cat. there's a small animal. able to identify a small animal. right there, we knew we had something extraordinarily valuable.
>> a house cat in the wilderness. it could only have been oliver.
>> it was a bingo moment in the command post down in cascade where andrea dearden a local sheriff's spokesperson was briefing the media. the spotter plane reporting back.
>> we heard him say there's a man, we see a female and we heard them say we see a gray animal. it's a cat.
>> and there you were.
>> that's when we knew.
>> that cat became the confirmation ultimately?
>> we had no doubt in our minds that that was hannah and dimaggio .
>> we had dimaggio , 100%.
>> now they had to get a team on the ground to rescue hannah . did dimaggio suspect from bumping into the horseback party or the aircraft above that he had been made?
>> you got to get to him.
>> logistics become a challenge because you can't land the helicopter in the camp without dimaggio knowing they're there.
>> now you have to worry whether he's clued to you and is this girl in terrible peril because here they come.
>> the window of opportunity was very small that day.
>> the outcome of the next few hours was anything but a sure bet. the fbi hostage rescue team had to assume he was armed. they would go in by helicopter.
>> there's a challenging landing. not a lot of flat land . they put that helicopter down a mile to two miles from the camp sight and then they began that two to 2 1/2 hour hike to surround the camp.
>> in san diego , a thousand miles away, the sheriff who committed all his resources to the case could now only stand by and sweat it out in real time .
>> one much our deputies was in the command post with an open line to us. we were getting simultaneous information as it was occurring in idaho.
>> the command post in two states waited silently.
>> that was probably the most tense time. we know that from what we can see, she's physically okay. so now we just need to get in and make that rescue.