Officers continued searching a remote part of Idaho for the man and a teenage girl thought to be with him. NBC's Joe Fryer reports.
The second body found in the burned-out home of a suspected kidnapper belonged to eight-year-old Ethan Anderson, San Diego County officials confirmed on Friday night, as officers searched a remote part of Idaho for the man and a teenage girl thought to be with him.
The multi-state search for James Lee DiMaggio and 16-year-old Hannah Anderson narrowed to an area known as the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness on Friday after a rider on horseback spotted two people matching their descriptions, said Ada County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Andrea Dearden.
More than 150 agents had gathered to help in the dragnet on Saturday, Dearden said, with dozens more expected to arrive later in the day. With air support and on horseback, they were scouring the isolated area that has only a few scattered cabins and extremely limited cell phone service, she said.
“The area is rugged terrain, it is wilderness country, this is backcountry,” Dearden said. The traditional method of sweeping for a missing person along a grid “isn’t going to work here,” she said.
While officials cannot yet be certain that the two people seen earlier this week were DiMaggio and Anderson, police say their goal is to bring the situation to a quick conclusion.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring Hannah home safely,” Dearden said.
Officials suspect that DiMaggio, 40, set fire to his own house killing the young boy and his mother, Christina Anderson, 44. They suspect he kidnapped Hannah, setting off a search that expanded to Canada and Mexico.
Ethan Anderson had been classified as missing as the search went on, and the identification of the body was confirmed by DNA analysis, the sheriff's office said. San Diego sheriff’s officials have said DiMaggio might have had an “unusual infatuation” with Hannah, and earlier this week the girl’s father pleaded for his daughter’s safe return: “If you have a chance, you take it. You run. You’ll be found.”
The horseback rider told authorities he saw an adult man and teenage girl near Morehead Lake in the secluded region of Idaho on Wednesday evening, Dearden said on Friday. The couple seemed odd, but did not strike him as dangerous, Deaden told reporters.
“There was nothing immediately alarming about this pair,” Dearden said.
Andrew Spanswick is a friend of Jim DiMaggio, the suspected kidnapper currently being sought in the Idaho wilderness. Spanswick said he hadn't heard much from DiMaggio in the last month or so, and said depression or drug use might've played a role in his alleged actions. TODAY's Erica Hill interviews Spanswick.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said at a news conference earlier on Friday that the two people spotted on Wednesday appeared to be in good health when they were seen on foot with camping gear.
“As far as we know, it didn’t look like she was being held against her will,” Gore said.
The two were seen about six to eight miles from where a Nissan Versa was found in the remote region outside the city of Cascade. The car, which matched the description of one driven by DiMaggio, was found covered with brush and without any license plates. A check of the car’s vehicle identification number confirmed it to be DiMaggio’s, according to the sheriff.
A search of the vehicle found no explosive devices in or near the car, according to the sheriff’s office in Ada County, Idaho. Authorities had warned on Thursday that DiMaggio might have booby-trapped the car with explosives.
Sprawling across more than 3,500 square miles, the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness is crisscrossed by deep canyons and rivers. Gore said he is confident Hannah Anderson will be returned safely.
“She was alive on Wednesday and we hope that law enforcement will find them up in the mountains there and return them safely,” the San Diego sheriff said.
NBC News’ Becky Bratu and Erin McClam contributed to this report.
- Kidnap suspect, girl sought in Idaho's River of No Return Wilderness
- New hope missing teen Hannah Anderson will be found
- Missing siblings: Kidnap suspect's car may have been spotted, authorities say
This story was originally published on Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:20 AM EDT