By Kate Mather
Los Angeles Times
The family of Hannah Anderson responded Wednesday to suggestions that the man who allegedly kidnapped the Lakeside, Calif., teenager may have been her biological father, saying her parents met James DiMaggio when her mother was pregnant.
“Brett and Tina Anderson met Mr. DiMaggio when Tina was in her sixth month of pregnancy with Hannah,” the statement said. “Brett Anderson’s DNA was used to identify the body of his dead son Ethan Anderson.”
The comments came after reports surfaced that DiMaggio’s sister was seeking a paternity test to determine if her brother was the biological father of 16-year-old Hannah or 8-year-old Ethan, whose body — along with his mother’s — was found in DiMaggio’s charred home earlier this month.
Andrew Spanswick, a spokesman for the DiMaggio family, said Lora Robinson had asked the coroner for DNA samples as part of her effort to “get to the bottom of what’s going on.”
“There were rumors that were circulating and she got wrapped up in the rumors,” Spanswick said. “She doesn’t know one way or the other. It’s a question that’s out there.”
Spanswick said Robinson was “not trying to cause any more pain for the Anderson family” but that she’s trying to determine what the motive behind her brother’s actions might have been. She has also asked authorities to examine some of the evidence, he said, including DiMaggio’s gun, a photo of DiMaggio and Hannah taken at a Border Patrol checkpoint, and letters from the teenager found at his home.
“We’d just like some more information,” Spanswick said. “It just doesn’t add up.”
The development was the latest in a series of new details trickling out of the case, which began Aug. 4 when the bodies of Hannah’s mother and brother were found at DiMaggio’s burning property in eastern San Diego County. The search — which triggered Amber Alerts across much of the West — ended six days later, when FBI agents found Hannah and DiMaggio at a campsite in a stretch of rural Idaho back \country.
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 body, the Valley County, Idaho, coroner said.
On Monday, Spanswick said DiMaggio left $112,000 in life insurance to Hannah’s paternal grandmother. The money designated to Bernice Anderson was intended to go to Hannah and her brother, he said.
On Tuesday, San Diego County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said a photo of Hannah and DiMaggio in his Nissan Versa was snapped at a Border Patrol checkpoint on Old Highway 8. The photo was taken at 12:10 a.m. on Aug. 4; the fire at DiMaggio’s property didn’t start until 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,” she said.
It remains unclear when Christina and Ethan Anderson 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 Ethan’s death were pending, officials said Tuesday.
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.
Hannah is to give her first media interview on Thursday, on NBC’s Today show.