By Kate Mather
Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO — Nearly 20 hours before James DiMaggio‘s house caught fire, the 40-year-old was already on the road with San Diego County teenager Hannah Anderson, as evidenced by a photograph taken at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint, officials said Tuesday.
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said DiMaggio and the 16-year-old were photographed in his Nissan Versa at a westbound Old Highway 8 checkpoint at 12:10 a.m. on Aug 4.
The fire at DiMaggio’s property in Boulevard — which triggered the multistate search for Hannah — was reported about 8 p.m. that day.
“Because the fire erupted several hours after, we knew he had a good head start on us and our work was cut out for us,” Caldwell said.
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore previously said authorities believe DiMaggio planned his actions, and search warrants revealed incendiary devices and arson wire were found on his property. The photograph was further evidence that the fires were set after DiMaggio fled the area, Caldwell said.
Search warrants released last week indicated Hannah was picked up from a cheerleading practice the afternoon of Aug. 4, but Caldwell said Tuesday that the practice was actually the day before.
It remains unclear when Hannah’s mother and brother — whose bodies were found on DiMaggio’s property — were killed.
Coroner’s officials confirmed Monday that Christina Anderson died of blunt force injury to the head, but said it was unknown when her fatal injuries occurred. Details of 8-year-old Ethan’s death have not been released.
Search warrants released last week said the two had been “tortured and killed,” but did not elaborate.
The case drew national attention as the search for Hannah and DiMaggio spread, triggering Amber Alerts across much of the West. The two were eventually tracked to a remote stretch of Idaho backcountry, where FBI agents raided their campsite on Aug. 10.
Hannah was rescued safely. DiMaggio, who authorities said fired at least once at the agents before he was killed, was shot at least five times in the head and torso, the Valley County, Idaho, coroner said.
DiMaggio left $112,000 in life insurance to Hannah’s grandmother, a DiMaggio family spokesman said Monday.
Sheriff’s officials have stressed that Hannah was a “victim in every sense of the word” and was “not a willing participant.” The teen has since returned to California, where she is with friends and family.
Caldwell said Tuesday that detectives now are working to “close the book” on the case.
“Our investigation is winding down, and we hope that the attention does as well,” Caldwell said. “Because we hope that Hannah and her family can begin this arduous process of grieving and learning how to deal with the new normal that they have.”