The California teen whose alleged kidnapper was killed by FBI agents two weeks ago explained Thursday on “The Today Show” why she exchanged text messages with him on the day she was abducted.
The teen — Hannah Anderson, 16 — gave her first interview since her dramatic rescue from a remote campground in Idaho Aug. 10. The interview was seen Thursday morning on “Today.”
Anderson used the interview as an opportunity to explain why she sent her kidnapper — James DiMaggio, 40, of Boulevard, Calif. (a town east of San Diego) — 13 text messages on the day he allegedly murdered her mother and 8 year-old brother, Ethan.
Some time after the alleged killings, DiMaggio apparently picked up Hannah at cheerleading camp, and then abducted her, triggering an Amber alert and leading to her dramatic rescue in Idaho six days later in which he was fatally shot.
Questions have arisen since then about Anderson’s relationship with DiMaggio, who is described in press accounts as a family “friend” who Hannah and Ethan called “Uncle Jim.”
In the interview on “Today” conducted by Kate Snow, Anderson denied that she had anything but an above-board relationship with the man, and that the texts she sent him on that day contained instructions on where to come pick her up after a day of cheerleading training.
“He was picking me up from cheer camp, and he didn’t know the address or where I was,” she said on “Today.” “So I had to tell him the address and tell him that I was going to be in the gym and not in front of the school, just so he knew where to come get me.”
She also explained several letters she wrote to DiMaggio a year earlier. “The letters were from like a year ago, when me and my mom weren’t getting along very well,” she said. “Me and him would talk about how to deal with it. I’d tell him how I felt about it, and he’d help me through it. They weren’t anything bad. They were just to help me through tough times.”
Anderson’s mother and father are divorced; her father, Brett Anderson, lives in Tennessee. According to various published reports, relatives of DiMaggio are speculating that DiMaggio may have been the biological father of Hannah and Ethan and they have asked for DNA testing to be performed. Hannah’s father says DiMaggio’s paternity of his children is simply not possible.