Hannah Anderson Did Not Conspire With Her Kidnapper, Sheriff Says
Authorities say that the 16-year-old girl whose mother and 8-year-old brother were tortured and killed, who was kidnapped and threatened with murder, and who barely ate or slept during her kidnapping was a victim and not a co-conspirator in these crimes.
They say that James Lee DiMaggio, the man who allegedly committed these crimes and who was fatally shot by FBI agents in the Idaho wilderness, is the target of the investigation. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore called his only surviving victim Hannah Anderson "a victim in every sense of the word" at a recent press conference.
Sheriff's investigators haven't discussed the motive for DiMaggio's alleged crimes except to note that DiMaggio seemed to have an unusual infatuation with the daughter of his best friend Brett Anderson. The kids called him "Uncle Jim," and he had been in the children's lives since their births.
Other than, details about the relationship between the two have been trickling out without a lot of context from tight-lipped investigators. A search warrant revealed that DiMaggio stored letters he received from Anderson, but authorities aren't describing what kind of letters they were or even how old Anderson was when she sent them. There were 13 phone calls between DiMaggio and Anderson before he picked her up from cheerleading practice the day he allegedly murdered her family and kidnapped her, but investigators haven't described what the pair talked about in those conversation. (Anderson did describe how her family ended up at his home: "He told us he was losing his house because of money issues so we went up there one last time to support him, and to have fun riding go-karts up there but he tricked us.")
In this vacuum of information, many people have assumed the worst—not of DiMaggio but of Anderson. These people assuming the worst are not investigators or the many psychologist experts being called up to comment on the case, but comments from the public on Twitter and online comment threads (including our own).
Here's a sampling from Twitter casting Anderson as a twisted Lolita figure: they say that the 16-year-old had a consensual affair with 40-year-old DiMaggio, she's trying to get attention through the media, that she manipulated DiMaggio into killing her family, that she isn't innocent and definitely seems guilty.
Just about everything that she's done in the days since her rescue has been viewed suspiciously. Some people thought it was weird that a grieving teenager got her nails done—even though she said that she picked one color to remember her brother and one to remember her mother. Some thought it was strange that she went online to talk about her ordeal. Though some psychologists said it may not be a smart move to grieve and process her trauma in a public internet forum, none of these experts thought that it was strange (and many thought it was normal) that a 16-year-old in 2013 would want to.
Anderson had her own response to people who thought it was weird that she was able to type out all the horrors that happened to her: "I'm trying to stay strong. And get out the truth. You don't know I could be crying answering these questions at the moment. You can show real emotion over social media. Do you really think I would be Ohkay with being kidnapped and hurt Nd finding out my dog lil brother and mom was killed.? Your fucking crazy."
Her friends said that they can see that she's definitely trying to put on a strong front and go back to being her usual bubbly self, but they can see she's not the same: Alyssa Haugum told CNN: "She's, like, acting strong for everyone and I think that's more of just, like, for her appearance. But I can tell that there's something inside of her that's upset. Like when we're all, like, having a good time and once everyone stops laughing she gets kind of this serious look on her face."
The full extent of Anderson's relationship with DiMaggio isn't clear, and that's because investigators aren't saying anything and they've ordered Anderson to keep quiet as well. Anderson wrote on Ask.fm that she felt strange about how DiMaggio admitted to having a crush on her, but she never felt comfortable complaining about her father's best friend. Although Anderson explained a lot of what happened through her Ask.fm page, she refused to say whether she had been sexually assaulted by DiMaggio.
When users kept pressing her, she responded: "Y'all know a hell of a lot already." Maybe one of the saddest, overlooked and perhaps most revealing comments she's made on her page is describing how she felt "a little bit uncomfortable" seeing her dad for the first time. She said, "Well personally it's kinda hard to see any guy adult right now."
Investigators Find Letters From Hannah Anderson, More Creepy Evidence At Kidnapping Suspect's California Home
16-Year-Old Kidnapping Victim Answered Questions About Her Ordeal Online
Amber Alert Kidnapping Suspect Reportedly Had A 'Crush' On 16-Year-Old