A harrowing search for a missing California teenager ended when FBI agents rescued the girl and shot and killed her apparent kidnapper at a campsite deep in the Idaho wilderness.
Hannah Anderson, 16, appeared to be uninjured and will be reunited soon with her father at a hospital, police said.
Her suspected abductor, James DiMaggio, 40, was killed yesterday after his campsite was found in Idaho’s rugged Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, roughly 40 miles from the tiny town of Cascade.
Hannah was taken to a hospital where crisis counsellors and medics were assisting her. Her father was expected to arrive in Idaho later today to reunite with her.
“We will make sure she gets as much care as possible, physically and emotionally,” said Andrea Dearden, a spokeswoman from the Ada County Sheriff’s Department.
The shooting came after officers participating in a massive manhunt for the pair spotted the campsite from the air and an FBI hostage recovery team trekked to the site near Morehead Lake.
“No one really knows where an investigation like this will lead,” said Mary Rook, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City division.
“In this case, our team faced a very challenging situation.”
The FBI said it was sending a team to investigate what unfolded before, during and after the shooting.
The location was not far from what had been the last known sighting of the pair. A horseback rider called police on Thursday night to report that on Wednesday he had seen two people who resembled Hannah and DiMaggio with camping gear on a trail near the lake.
The rider did not realise they were subjects of a massive search until he got home and saw news reports.
The case began when the charred bodies of Hannah’s mother, Christina Anderson, 44, and the teenager’s eight-year-old brother, Ethan Anderson, were found in DiMaggio’s burning house outside San Diego, near the Mexico border.
DiMaggio was close to the family. Christina Anderson’s husband, Brett Anderson, has described him as a best friend and said the children thought of him as an uncle.
The authorities have said DiMaggio had an “unusual infatuation” with Hannah, although her father said he never saw any strange behaviour.
An Amber Alert was issued, and tip-offs led investigators to Oregon after DiMaggio and the teenager were reportedly spotted there.
But it was not until the Idaho horseback rider called in that investigators found a major lead – DiMaggio’s car, hidden on the border of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
A contingent of about 270 law enforcement officers from the FBI, the Valley and Ada County sheriffs’ offices, Idaho State Police, the US Marshals Service, and the Border Patrol, aided by experts from federal land management and wildlife agencies, worked around the clock to figure out the best way to track DiMaggio and the teen in the roadless area.
San Diego County Sheriff William Gore announced Hannah’s rescue and DiMaggio’s death at a news conference in California.
He said members of his office notified Mr Anderson, of her rescue.
“He was very relieved and very excited and looking forward to being reunited with his daughter,” Mr Gore said.
At a separate news conference in Idaho, Ms Dearden said she did not know if DiMaggio fired shots at officers but there were no reports of any injuries to police involved in the encounter.