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Idaho kidnapping: What horseback riders saw that saved Hannah Anderson

Idaho kidnapping: Horseback riders saw 'red flags' when they met Hannah Anderson and James Lee DiMaggio on the trail in western Idaho. The kidnapping ended Saturday when DiMaggio was fatally shot.

By Todd DvorakAssociated Press / August 12, 2013


Boise, Idaho

The horseback riders who encountered a missing California teen and her abductor said Sunday that "red flags" went up for them because the pair seemed out of place and ill-equipped for the wilderness of the western state of Idaho.

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Initially it was the lack of openness on the trail, a reluctance to engage in the polite exchange of banter or adventures like so many other recreationists Mark John has encountered during his various horseback excursions into Idaho's rugged backcountry.

Then John and his partners on horseback puzzled why 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and James Lee DiMaggio were hiking in the opposite direction of their stated destination, the Salmon River.

But more than anything, it was their gear, or lack of it. Neither was sporting hiking boots or rain gear. The 40-year-old DiMaggio, described as an avid hiker in his home state of California, was toting only a light pack. It even appeared Anderson was wearing pajama bottoms.

"They just didn't fit," said the 71-year-old John, who retired as Gem County sheriff in 1996. "He might have been an outdoorsman in California but he was not an outdoorsman in Idaho ... Red flags kind of went up."

At a news conference Sunday in Boise, John and his three riding mates shared details of their encounters with Anderson and DiMaggio and helped focus the massive manhunt and rescue effort on a southwest corner of wilderness in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, a 2.3 million acre (0.93 million hectare) roadless preserve in the heart of Idaho.

On Saturday, after searchers spotted the pair by air, two highly-specialized FBI hostage teams moved in on ground, ultimately rescuing Anderson and killing DiMaggio in a shootout at their encampment at a remote, alpine lake.

Anderson was immediately transported to an unidentified hospital. She was expected to be reunited with her father, Brett Anderson, earlier Sunday, but authorities did not disclose any details of their meeting.

DiMaggio is also suspected of killing Anderson's mother and brother at his home in Southern California.

On Sunday, FBI agents returned to process the scene at the camp at Morehead Lake, about 8 miles inside the wilderness border and 40 miles east of the central Idaho town of Cascade.

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