SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KTLA) — A state-wide manhunt was underway Tuesday for a 40-year-old man suspected of abducting two children, after killing their mother at a home in eastern San Diego County.
An Amber Alert was in effect for Hannah Marie Anderson, 16, and her brother Ethan Anderson, 8, who were last seen Saturday.
They were believed to be with family friend James Lee DiMaggio.
The body of 42-year-old Christina Anderson was found Sunday night in the rubble of a burned-out home in the rural community of Boulevard owned by DiMaggio, authorities said.
He and Christina Anderson reportedly had a close platonic relationship.
The children’s aunt Andrea Saincome said DiMaggio had known the family for years and that it was not unusual for Anderson and the children to be at his house.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary,” Saincome told HLN’s Christi Paul. “He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. He was close to the kids, and he was friends with my sister and my brother-in-law.”
The remains of a child were also found in the house, but the child’s identity and cause of death had not been released Tuesday.
“It will take two or three days for DNA testing to identify the charred body,” sheriff’s Department Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said. “It is a possibility that the body found in the residence is that of Ethan,” he said.
The children’s father, Brett Anderson, reached out to DiMaggio and his daughter at a news conference Tuesday in San Diego.
“Jim, I can’t fathom what you were thinking. The damage is done. I’m begging you to let my daughter go, you’ve taken everything else,” Brett Anderson said. “Hannah, we all love you very much. If you have a chance take it, you run, you will be found.”
DiMaggio was believed to be driving a blue, four-door Nissan Versa, with the California license plate No. 6WCU986.
But authorities said DiMaggio might have switched vehicles or may have taken public transportation.
“We don’t have any clear direction of where they’re going,” Giannantonio said.
“It would be logical for us to assume that he would head towards Mexico … we’re very close to the border,” Giannantonio said “He may be trying to throw us off and head the opposite direction and head towards Canada, thinking possibly that the Canadian authorities and the citizens in Canada may not be looking for him like they are here or in Mexico.”
Hannah Anderson is about 5 feet 7 inches tall and 115 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes.
Her brother Ethan has sandy blond hair and is about 4 feet 11 inches tall and 65 pounds.
Anyone with information was asked to call the San Diego Sheriff’s Department at (858) 565-5200.