Hannah Anderson speaks out on national TV
LAKESIDE (CNS) – The 16-year-old Lakeside girl rescued from a remote
area in Idaho by the FBI after her abduction by a family friend who allegedly
killed her mother and 8-year-old brother said in an interview broadcast Thursday
that she considers herself a survivor, not a victim.
“In the beginning I was a victim, but now knowing everyone is out there
helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead,” said Hannah Anderson in
an interview that aired Thursday morning on NBC's “Today” show.
Hannah also said she was drawing on her mother's memory to get through
the pain of losing her loved ones.
“She was strong-hearted and very tough,” Hannah said of her mother.
“She knew how to handle things.”
When asked about her brother, Hannah broke down and cried as she
described him as having a big heart.
Hannah was found in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area
on Aug. 10, when her captor, James Lee DiMaggio, 40, was shot and killed by an
FBI agent in an exchange of gunfire.
Authorities were tipped off to their location in the remote area about
80 miles northeast of Boise after a group of horseback riders spoke with them
and later saw the Amber Alert on television and contacted local law
enforcement. In her interview, Hannah said she didn't know people were looking
for her and or what an Amber Alert was prior to her rescue. She thanked those
horseback riders who heeded the Amber Alert and the law enforcement that
ultimately rescued her.
Hannah had been missing since Aug. 3. Sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said that an image of Hannah and DiMaggio in his blue Nissan Versa was
captured as it was being driven westbound through a U.S. Border Patrol
checkpoint on Old Highway 80 in Pine Valley shortly after midnight Aug. 4.
About 20 hours later, a fire that authorities said was started using
incendiary devices was reported at DiMaggio's home on Ross Avenue in Boulevard.
The bodies of Hannah's mother, Christina Anderson, 44, and 8-year-old brother,
Ethan, were found in the burned-out log cabin-style house and garage.
Sheriff's officials said Hannah was unaware her mother and brother had
died until after her rescue. Mother and son were expected to be buried this
A motive for the crimes has yet to be disclosed, though Anderson family
friends have said DiMaggio had an infatuation with the teen.
According to search warrant records, Hannah exchanged 13 text messages
with DiMaggio the day of her kidnapping. Hannah said in her interview that the
messages were about where he could pick her up from cheer camp that day. Known
as “Uncle Jim” to Hannah and Ethan, DiMaggio frequently helped the children's
mother with the children after their father took a job out of state.
Search warrant records also showed authorities found letters between
Hannah and DiMaggio as part of their investigation. Hannah said the letters
were written about a year ago when she and her mother were not getting along,
and that there was not “anything bad” in them. She said DiMaggio gave her
advice on how to deal with the situation.
Earlier this week, DiMaggio's family revealed that he had left his life
insurance policy to the children's paternal grandmother to be used for Hannah
“He stated he did not want it to go to their parents because they were
having marital problems and he didn't trust them with the money on their own,”
DiMaggio family spokesman Andrew Spanswick said.
The family is not contesting the policy payout but is asking for a DNA
test to the children were in fact his biological children.
Brett Anderson, Hannah and Ethan's father, said the claim was
“ridiculous” because Ethan's body was identified using his DNA. A publicist
for the family said that Christina Anderson was six months pregnant with Hannah
when the pair first met DiMaggio.
It was unclear whether the DiMaggio family planned to force the issue in