Dateline   |  August 23, 2013

The Rescue of Hannah Anderson, Part 6

A fatal shootout ends the nationwide manhunt, and Hannah gives her first interview about her ordeal.

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

>>> hostage was spotted from the air. now a rescue team was inserted by chopper two miles away , so they weren't heard by the suspect. the unit made it across the rocky wilderness by foot until they had a vantage point of the campsite. hannah moving a few feet from dimaggio . the rescuers made their move. so did a surprised dimaggio .

>> dimaggio had a rifle, fired one round, lowered the rifle to shoulder height, fired one more round.

>> the snipers took their shot. a five-round volley to the head and chest. the radio down in the local command center so tensely silent for so many minutes now crackled the news.

>> and the next thing we heard was shots fired, suspect down hard, jackpot, jackpot.

>> what's that mean to civilians?

>> jackpot, we knew, meant that they had hannah .

>> andrea dearden, the briefer for the media along with the others could at last exhale.

>> it was a huge sigh of relief.

>> with dimaggio dead on the ground, the rescuers called for the chopper to come in and pick up an uninjured hannah and oliver, dimaggio 's beloved gray cat that was the final confirmation of his whereabouts. hannah as evaced to a hospital in mccall where she recounted her story to a sole fbi investigator trained to work delicately with adolescents like her. for the first time, she learned that her mother and little brother had been murdered.

>> back home in san diego , elation that hannah was spared. since coming home , hannah has been embraced by the same loving community that held vigils for her safe return. circle of healing so strong that this wednesday, just 11 days after being plucked out of the idaho wilderness, she felt ready to speak out about her ordeal giving an exclusive first interview to nbc news.

>> really scary.

>> we met a nervous teenager who was remarkably poised for someone so young who had endured so much.

>> it's kind of hard. but i'm hanging in there.

>> this is a picture of hannah anderson.

>> hannah was surprised to learn about the nationwide search for her and says she never heard of the amber alert .

>> i didn't really know what it was. but i know it helped people find me and it made them like realize that it's hard to find people out there. but with everyone's support, it can help a lot.

>> she thanked the legions of people who helped bring her home.

>> i wanted to thank the horsemen and the amber alert and the sheriff and the fbi, with everyone that put in their time to find me. and my dad and my friends and my family. just all my supporters that helped spread the word.

>> her dramatic rescue.

>> back up.

>> the overwhelming homecoming she's received. all of that nonstop stimulus has delayed for hannah making sense for now about how her life is changed. about her awful loss.

>> through all of this, like i don't know how i feel. so i can't really like show it as much.

>> in these early days of grief, she embraces a teenager's symbols. a t-shirt she designed to honor her mom and brother. a special manicure.

>> i got my nails done to help support my mom and brother. the blue is for ethan and the pink is for my mom.

>> her father brett was by her side as hannah spoke publicly for the first time about the mother she lost so brutally.

>> my mom raised me to be strong. she was strong hearted and very tough. she had a temper, but she knew how to handle things.

>> and then little ethan .

>> he had a really big heart. and --

>> it's clearly all too much. and likely will be for some time.

>> which is partly why just three days after coming home , she did something she says a lot of people misunderstood. hannah logged on to a social media site popular with high school kids called ask fm to field questions from anonymous strangers about her ordeal. some of the questions were blunt. were your mom and ethan burned alive? yes, she replied. are you happier they shot him or would you have wanted him to have life in prison ?

>> she answered shot him, he deserved what he got. some questions were frivolous. are you into drake, lil wayne , et cetera ?

>> yes.

>> her online chat may have seemed inappropriate to some people, but it's how she found the emotional support she craved. she is a digital teen.

>> well, a lot of my family and friends that i don't have numbers to or they don't have cell phones , i connect to them through facebook and instagram, it just helps me grieve like, post pictures and to show how i'm feeling and i'm a teenager. i'm going to go on it.

>> in our interview, she also addressed some of the eyebrow raising details about the investigation. facts that have fueled speculation about her relationship with her abductor. things like why was there so much cell phone communication between dimaggio and hannah the day he killed her mother and brother?

>> 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 or like where i was. so i had to tell him the address and tell him that i was going to be in the gym and not in front of the school. and just so he knew where to come get me.

>> and what about the letters from hannah to dimaggio that investigators found at his place?

>> 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 and i'd tell him how i felt about it and he helped me through it. they weren't anything bad. they were just to help me through tough times.

>> and to anyone who remains skeptical about her, hannah had this to say.

>> they don't really know the story. so they kind of have their own opinion on what they hear. most of them think that i'm not innocent. but i am.

>> authorities are resolute that hannah is unquestionably the victim here.

>> she was a victim in every sense of the word.

>> she was taken against her will.

>> she was taken against her will. he controlled her. no doubt about it.

>> from beginning to end?

>> from beginning to end.

>> is this an open investigation?

>> it's still an open investigation because we want to try to answer all the unanswered questions. there's no doubt in our mind she was a victim.

>> jim dimaggio never made it to a courtroom to face the monstrous charge. why did you destroy almost an entire family?

>> the sheriff in san diego for one can live without knowing the answer?

>> am i going to lose sleep that he's not going into a court of law? after seeing what he did hear in san diego , i'm probably not going to lose any sleep over that.

>> unless hannah herself elects to tell the whole story someday, the details of her awful journey to the river of no return , the before and after of her young life will probably never be made public. after all, she is a teenager.

>> legally a minor. still just a kid in so many ways. and with any kind of luck, the journey ahead will get easier for her.

>> i'm never going to forget about t but i think i can move on. this was a hard time . there's going to be harder times in life. but if i could get through this, i'm sure i can get through a lot more.

>>> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll be back again next friday at 9:00, 8:00 central. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today." i'm