Idaho Horseback Riders Tell Of Their Encounter With Alleged California Abductor

By Sadie Babits

Four Idaho horseback riders yesterday shared their story of encountering a missing California teen and her alleged abductor. Sixteen year old Hannah Anderson was rescued Saturday from the rugged Idaho backcountry near Cascade, Idaho. The riders say “red flags” popped up when they met the pair.

Four horseback riders from Sweet, Idaho encountered alleged abductor James DiMaggio and 16-year-old Hannah Anderson in the remote wilderness. Photo Credit: Sadie Babits.71-year old Mark John is a retired sheriff from Gem County. He, his wife and another couple had gone camping last week near Morehead Lake in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. They were on horseback when they encountered a man and a teenage girl. 

John says the pair just didn’t seem to fit in the rugged backcountry: “All their gear looked like it was brand new,” said John. “That was another little flag just wasn’t normal or natural.”

Another red flag was that the pair’s tent was up on an exposed ridge away from water. Hannah Anderson wore sweat pants or pajama bottoms and tennis shoes. James DiMaggio had a backpack. Rider Mike Young was the first to encounter DiMaggio. and says “usually when you meet in the backcountry you have a pretty good encounter and you talk about where you’ve been and where you’re going. But they didn’t want to talk.”

Photo: Four horseback riders from Sweet, Idaho encountered alleged abductor James DiMaggio and 16-year-old Hannah Anderson in the remote wilderness. (From left to right: Mary Young, Mike Young, Mark John, Christa John ) Photo Credit: Sadie Babits.

Mark John says the next night they were back home watching TV, “The amber alert flashed up on the television and I told my wife that was the girl we seen on the mountain.”

John called the Idaho State Police and that triggered a massive search in the wilderness. Law enforcement shot and killed DiMaggio. Hannah Anderson was air lifted to safety Saturday.

John says he’s grateful for the Amber alert system and the role it played in helping to find Anderson. Christa John says nobody suspected Anderson would be in such rough Idaho country. “ For us to be there at the precise time to interact with them is one chance in a trillion.”

Meanwhile, FBI agents are processing evidence at the campsite where Anderson and DiMaggio were first discovered. The FBI told the Associated Press the agency was sending a team to investigate what unfolded in the wilderness near Cascade.

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