Massive manhunt underway in Idaho wilderness for man, teen girl


by Andrea Lutz

Posted on August 10, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 10 at 7:05 PM

CASCADE, Idaho -- With the sun rising Saturday morning a massive manhunt continued for the man suspected of kidnapping a teenage girl from San Diego.

Over 150 people are looking for the pair as well as more FBI agents that arrived in Cascade overnight.

Several different agencies are searching the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area in Valley County. The search area is roughly 300 square miles.

Kidnapping suspect James DiMaggio’s Nissan Versa was found by some hikers near a trailhead to Morehead Lake. There was concern DiMaggio had rigged the car with explosives, but the Boise Bomb Squad did not find any.

Search crews had lots of obstacles to deal with including darkness, cold temperatures and steep and rugged terrain.

Saturday is the first full day of the search for Amber Alert victim, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson.

In Cascade, Idaho, authorities start the search for Hannah and the man accused of kidnapping her from her San Diego home – James DiMaggio.

Roughly 50 miles to the northwest their search is complicated.

“Horseback, on foot, as much as we can get, recreational vehicles and air support, all of those are being utilized right now,” said Ada County Sheriff’s spokesperson Andrea Dearden.

It all started when a Gem County man riding on horseback came across two hikers matching their description six miles from the Morehead Lake trailhead in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.  That’s deep in the Idaho wilderness.

He told police that the teenage girl looked healthy and in good spirits, but thought they appeared “odd.”

“There was nothing immediately alarming about this pair, the horseback rider said. They did appear to have gear with them. They had camping equipment it seemed to him.  I think he described the interaction as odd but nothing alarming,” said Dearden.

So when he told police about it authorities began to look for DiMaggio’s Nissan Versa and found it up a forest road.

Now, Idaho State Police are stationed at Burnt Log Road telling recreationalists they can’t go farther.

While police work they face many challenges because this area is secluded.

“Communication is another challenge, of course, though we are prepared with as much technology as we possibly can, satellite phones, things like that,” said Dearden.

But as the weekend also brings out Idahoans who like to recreate in the backcountry, a word of caution is issued by law enforcement.

“You may hit a checkpoint, that’s right, I said that we’ll make sure that everyone’s safe. As things progress or as the search heads in different directions, that can change, safety being our top priority.  We will make sure we don’t put anybody in harm’s way,” said Dearden.

Dearden said trained experts from San Diego will process to Nissan Versa for additional evidence to make sure nothing is missed in this investigation.

Law enforcement is asking you to report anything suspicious that may be helpful in the manhunt for DiMaggio.  Dearden says the public is the key to bringing Hannah back home safe.

If you have any information -- call the tipline at 208-846-7676.