Fact Check

Missing Persons: Hannah and Ethan Anderson

Hannah and Ethan Anderson are missing from their San Diego area home following their mother's death.

Published Aug 6, 2013

Claim:   Hannah Anderson is missing from her San Diego area home following her mother's death.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2013]

MISSING: Hannah Anderson & Ethan Anderson from San Diego, California


Hannah and Ethan Anderson were allegedly abducted by James Lee Dimaggio on Tuesday. He is believed to be taking them to either Texas or Canada.

Dimaggio, 40, is 5'9" ~150 lbs. with brown hair. He is also suspected of killing Christina Anderson, the mother of Hannah and Ethan, whose body was found inside a burned rural house. A second body of a child was in the house, but has yet to be identified.

Hannah, 16, is 5'7" ~115 lbs. She has blond hair and blue eyes. Ethan, 8, is 4'11" ~65 lbs. with blond hair.

Anyone with information is asked to call the San Diego Sheriff's Department at 858-565-5200.


Origins:   On the night of 4 August 2013, 44-year-old Christina Anderson was found dead inside a burned rural house near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Christina Anderson, 44, was one of two people found dead by authorities sent to extinguish the fire, a San Diego County sheriff's statement said.

A second body, that of a child, was found in the rubble of the house’s detached garage, but the identity and manner of death remained undetermined. Authorities who released the news of the deaths wouldn’t say whether the body may have belonged to one of Anderson’s children.

A dog was also found dead inside the house.

An Amber Alert was issued for Christina Anderson's two children, Hannah Anderson, 16, and Ethan Anderson, 8, stating that the pair were abducted at 5 p.m. on 3 August 2013 in the city of Boulevard in San Diego County. (Authorities have since confirmed that the second body found in the burned house was Ethan's.)

An acquaintance of Christina Anderson's was believed to be responsible both for her death and the disappearance of her daughter:

Authorities said the man suspected of killing the woman may have abducted the kids.

The suspect, James Lee Dimaggio, 40, owned the home in Boulevard, some 60 miles southeast of San Diego, and lived there alone, the sheriff’s statement said.

DiMaggio was in a "close platonic relationship" with Anderson, the sheriff’s statement said without further explanation.

The Amber Alert said DiMaggio could be driving a 2013 blue four-door Nissan Versa with California license plate 6WCU986.

The Amber Alert was sent out at 6:45 p.m [on 5 August 2013] across Imperial and San Diego counties.

On 9 August 2013, James DiMaggio's car was found in a remote, mountainous region of Idaho near the city of Cascade, and witnesses reported spotting him and Hannah Anderson camping at a site several miles from where the car was located:

The man accused in an arson, murder and kidnap case that has attracted nationwide attention is in a central Idaho wilderness area along with the 16-year-old girl he is accused of abducting, authorities said

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said four horseback riders saw two people believed to be James Lee DiMaggio, 40, and Hannah Anderson, 16, first in the early morning and then again around noon.

They were camping in the Morehead Lake area in the central part of the state, Idaho law enforcement officials said.

The horseback riders, who talked to the pair, said the two had light camping gear with them, backpacks and a tent, and appeared to be out of place.

The horseback riders said that DiMaggio and Hannah appeared to be in good health. They were camping about five to six miles away from where the car was found.

On 10 August 2013, James DiMaggio was shot and killed by law enforcement officials, and Hannah Anderson was recovered safely.

The alert issued for Hannah and Ethan Anderson was the first usage in California of a statewide emergency system for notifying the public about Amber Alerts through their cellphones:

Thanks to the Wireless Emergency Alert program, cellphone owners receive messages automatically, based on their proximity to the emergency, not based on their phone number.

“If you’re from Texas and that’s where your phone number is based and you’re traveling in California at the time of the Amber Alert, you’ll

receive the text message about the Amber Alert in California on your Texas-based phone,” said CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader.

The messages go out over a special wireless carrier channel called Cell Broadcast and aren’t affected by regular cellphone traffic that might disrupt calls and text messages during times of heavy usage, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which has teamed with the government in the program.

The signal is transmitted simultaneously to all mobile devices within the range of cell towers in the affected area. There are no texting charges. The system does not track phones' whereabouts.

The system is a second-generation Amber Alert and replaces the Wireless Amber Alert program that sent text alerts only to cellphone users who subscribed to the service. The new system began Jan. 1 and requires cellphone customers to opt out to stop receiving alerts.

Last updated:   11 August 2013


    Branson-Potts, Hailey.   "Amber Alert Suspect May Have Booby-Trapped Car, Switched Vehicles."

    Los Angeles Times.     8 August 2013.

    Serna, Joseph   "California Issues First Cellphone Amber Alert."

    Los Angeles Times.     6 August 2013.

    Serna, Joseph   "Amber Alert Out for Siblings Feared to Be with Suspected Killer."

    Los Angeles Times.     6 August 2013.

    Desert Sun.   "Amber Alert Issued for Hannah Anderson, Ethan Anderson."

      6 August 2013.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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