(SAN DIEGO) — A group of horseback riders who helped lead authorities to a California man and the 16-year-old girl he allegedly abducted said the two were out of place in the Idaho wilderness, and they were troubled by the teen’s behavior.
Hannah Anderson was rescued Saturday after an FBI agent shot and killed James Lee DiMaggio, 40, near a remote Idaho campsite after a massive search for the pair this weekend.
Sheriff Bill Gore in San Diego County, Calif., said DiMaggio was killed by an FBI agent at 4:22 p.m. PT.
Law enforcement officials praised the four riders who called in the tip after seeing Anderson and DiMaggio in the woods on Wednesday, and then making the connection later when they saw a report about the Amber Alert that had been issued for the girl.
Mark John, 71, a former sheriff’s deputy from Gem County, said that when they saw the pair Wednesday in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness — the largest roadless area in the lower 48 states — the man and girl did not act like most people do in that area when they meet others, and they did not seem prepared.
“In the back country in Idaho, you run across somebody back there hiking, they’re usually quite friendly and they exchange pleasantries and they exchange knowledge about where they’ve been, what they’ve done, where they were going,” he said. “These people did not want to talk to us whatsoever.”
Anderson “kind of had a scared look on her face when I first come up the trail,” said Mike Young, one of the riders. “We didn’t know if it was from the horses or what, but then when I turned and talked to him a little bit I just had a gut feeling.”
Christa John, another member of the group, said the two looked like they could be father and daughter and he dragged her along on a hike she was not happy about.
“You know there was no immediate, that we said, oh boy we’ve got to rescue her,” she said. “There was nothing like that. It was unusual, it was strange but it was explainable.”
When the riders asked the two where they were going, they said Salmon River, but they were headed in the opposite direction.
“They were just like a just a square peg going into a round hole,” Young said. “They didn’t fit. He may have been an outdoors man in California but he was not an outdoors man in Idaho and he didn’t fit.”
The California teen’s family celebrated her safe return Sunday morning after authorities shot and killed her apparent abductor, who was also suspected of murdering her mother and brother.
Anderson was located and “appears well,” Gore told reporters Saturday evening. Authorities said she was being checked out at an Idaho hospital.
DiMaggio was also suspected of killing Hannah’s mother, Christina Anderson, and her brother, Ethan, after setting his house on fire. The suspect left with the girl last Sunday after her mother and brother were found slain at the girl’s house in California.
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