SAN DIEGO – As a 16-year-old girl breaks her silence about how she was kidnapped by a family friend accused of killing her mother and brother, the girl's father is striking back at the suggestion that the suspect fathered his children.
Brett Anderson finds it "disgusting" that the family of James Lee DiMaggio is mentioning the suspect as the possible father of Hannah and Ethan Anderson, said Stacy Hess, an Anderson family spokeswoman.
DiMaggio, 40, didn't meet Brett and Christina Anderson until Christina was six months pregnant with Hannah, Hess said. And investigators used Brett Anderson's DNA to confirm the identity of 8-year-old Ethan Anderson, whose remains were found in the rubble of DiMaggio's burned home, she said.
The exchange of words over families for the suspect and victim came as Hannah Anderson ended her public silence since she was rescued Aug. 10 by FBI agents during a shootout in the Idaho wilderness that killed DiMaggio. Hannah gave her first news interview since her rescue to the NBC "Today" show, which was scheduled to air Thursday.
"In the beginning I was a victim, but now knowing everyone out there is helping me I consider myself a survivor instead," she told NBC. "My mom raised me to be strong."
Andrew Spanswick, a spokesman for the DiMaggio family, said rumors have circulated on social media that DiMaggio fathered the children and that it was "a little strange" that the suspect named the girl's paternal grandmother as his life insurance beneficiary.
Lora Robinson, DiMaggio's sister and lone survivor of his immediate family, collected DNA from her brother and wants samples from Hannah Anderson and her brother to determine paternity, Spanswick said. She has not yet asked for the samples but intends to at a later date.
"The biggest issue is, I think, that Lora wants closure on the case," Spanswick said. "As Lora has heard these rumors, she would like to confirm whether they are true or not."
DiMaggio was like an uncle to the Anderson children and Brett Anderson's best friend. Hannah was rescued Aug. 10 when FBI agents killed DiMaggio in the Idaho wilderness, ending a massive search that spanned much of the western United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Investigators say DiMaggio escaped with Hannah and killed 44-year-old Christina Anderson and her son, whose bodies were discovered after DiMaggio set fire to his home Aug. 4 in Boulevard, a tiny town 65 miles east of San Diego.
DiMaggio named Hannah's grandmother, Bernice Anderson, as the sole beneficiary of his employer-issued life insurance policy, making her eligible to receive $112,000, according to Spanswick, who believes the money was intended for Hannah.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore has called Hannah "a victim in every sense of the word." He has declined to discuss a possible motive and investigators haven't publicly addressed other aspects of the case, including why the family went to DiMaggio's home, how Christina and Ethan Anderson died, the nature of letters from Hannah that were discovered in DiMaggio's home and how Hannah was treated in captivity.
DiMaggio used a timer to set the fire, giving him a 20-hour jump on authorities, San Diego County Sheriff's Department Jan Caldwell said.