(Photo: San Diego Sheriff's Department/AP)
A massive search is underway in the remote Idaho backcountry for California murder suspect James DiMaggio and the 16-year-old he's believed to have kidnapped following the grisly murders of her mother and younger brother.
Some 150 law enforcement officials are descending on a 320-square-mile area of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, a mostly roadless, rugged, heavily wooded forest in central Idaho about 70 miles north of Boise where motorized vehicles are prohibited. Another 50 were expected by day's end.
Teams from the Valley County and Ada County Sheriff's departments, U.S Marshals Service, Homeland Security, FBI, Idaho Army National Guard and Idaho State Police are part of the search-and-rescue operations. Their efforts are hindered by the area's rough terrain, lack of vehicle access and cellphone coverage, says Andrea Dearden, an Ada County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman. She would not say if drones or infrared devices are being used in the search.
DiMaggio's Nissan Versa, covered with brush and missing its California license plates, was found about five miles from a trailhead into the area Friday morning. Authorities had suspected the car may have been booby-trapped, but no explosives were found in or around the vehicle by a Boise Police Department bomb squad.
The discovery came about two days after a horseback rider reported seeing DiMaggio and teen Hannah Anderson hiking with backpacks. Idaho authorities say the rider didn't realize the pair were being sought until he got home and recognized them on news reports.
San Diego Police say they believe DiMaggio, 40, kidnapped Hannah after killing her mother, Christinia Anderson, and her brother, Ethan, last weekend. Their bodies were found in DiMaggio's burning California home near the Mexican border Sunday. On Friday night, San Diego County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the remains found in the home matched the DNA of Ethan, 8.
The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area was named after the late Idaho senator who sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1976. At more than 2.3 million acres, its the second-largest protected wilderness area in the lower 48 states, coursing through mountain ranges, deep canyons and the middle fork of the Salmon River, a popular waterway for rafters and kayakers.
DiMaggio, a friend of the Andersons, is an experienced outdoorsman, according to Hannah's father, Brett Anderson, who was separated from his wife and had moved to Tennessee for work. He and DiMaggio, a Scripps Research Institute telecommunications technician, met about 20 years ago.
Brett Anderson said earlier this week that DiMaggio had promised to watch over his family and that his kids had referred to him as "Uncle Jim."