Family reacts at San Diego vigil to news of Idaho sighting

UT San DiegoAugust 10, 2013 

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Sara Britt, grandmother of Hannah and Ethan Anderson, hugs Ethan's best friend, Christian "Boogie" Ingram, 11, on Friday during a candlelight vigil for the children and their mother, Christina Anderson, at Lindo Lake Park in Lakeside, Calif.

HAYNE PALMOUR IV — U-T San Diego / Zuma Press

Brett Anderson and other relatives and friends gathered Friday night at Lindo Lake Park in Lakeside in a vigil for his family.

He recently separated from his wife and moved to Tennesee for a job. James DiMaggio had said he would watch over the family.

Anderson said the lake was one of Ethan’s favorite spots and where he came frequently to fish with his friends.

“This was Ethan’s playpen,” the father said. “This was his fishing hole. He probably came here five times a week.”

Erik Campbell of Poway, Ethan’s godfather, said it has been a “surreal” week for the family as they coped with the news of Christina’s death and waited for news about Ethan and Hannah in a case that has drawn nationwide media attention.

“You don’t expect to turn on the television and see your family on CNN and ‘Nancy Grace,’ ’’ Campbell said. “Unfortunately,” he said, “our family befriended a maniac.”

Campbell brought his 3-month-old son, Jordan, to the vigil, and the baby wore a onesie that said “Pray for Hannah” on it.

Like other family members, Campbell said they never would have expected that DiMaggio, a Scripps Research Institute telecommunications technician described as mild-mannered and unassuming, would have done something so heinous as what he is accused of.

Ralph Britt, the stepfather of Christina Anderson, said DiMaggio and Brett Anderson met about 20 years ago when they worked together in the telecommunications field. He said Hannah and Ethan referred to DiMaggio as “Uncle Jim.”

Sara Britt, Christina's mother, spoke to the vigil crowd and told the many young people there not to be afraid to say something if they hear something confidential and feel uneasy about it, an apparent reference to friends’ remarks this week that Hannah had recently become uncomfortable around DiMaggio, and that at times he “creeped her out.”

“You have to tell someone that can help you,” she said.

Christopher Saincome, Hannah’s maternal grandfather in Camarillo, said he was relieved to hear the news from Idaho.

“I’m so glad. That’s great. I’m happy they found her alive,” Saincome said.

Saincome said he believes Hannah would have never consented to go along with DiMaggio, who is single, and that “she has nothing to do with this” trip to Idaho.

He told U-T San Diego on Thursday that his daughter, Christina, told him last week that DiMaggio wanted her to bring her children to his home to say goodbye because he was losing his house to a foreclosure and moving to Texas.

Investigators also believe that DiMaggio, who they described as an avid outdoorsman, had been thinking about the crimes for some time.

“It was obviously a planned event,” sheriff’s homicide Capt. Duncan Fraser said. DiMaggio purchased the camping gear about two weeks ago, he said.

Fraser described the case as one of the “worst ones I’ve seen” in 32 years in law enforcement.

The case has baffled family and friends of DiMaggio, who was described by his sister Lora Robinson as a “straight-up guy” who is smart, kind and who cared for Ethan and Hannah as if they were his own.

DiMaggio’s last post on his Facebook page was July 10. He quoted American writer and politician William Mather Lewis. It reads, “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”

Brett Anderson said he was touched by all the prayers that had been sent from around the world, some as far as Austria and Australia, on Facebook pages for Hannah and Ethan.

“I think that will bring a lot of peace to her when she gets home,” he said.

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