A good many people see Valley County as a place to escape harsh realities and recreate against one of the most beautiful backdrops in the region. But campers, rafters, boaters and families just looking for a summer respite will find it difficult to forget the events of the past 48 hours.
With a national television audience watching live updates, the multi-agency search for a man wanted in connection with the murder of a mother and her 8-year-old son in California, and the kidnapping of the 16-year-old daughter and sister of the victims, Valley County became the center of attention Aug. 9 and 10. More than 300 local, state and federal law enforcement agents descended on the area to hunt Idaho's backcountry in their search for 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio.
At approximately 5:20 p.m., law enforcement caught up with DiMaggio and the girl in a remote campsite near Morehead Lake. Though few details have been released, officials confirmed that an FBI agent shot and killed DiMaggio at the scene. The girl was rescued and immediately airlifted to a local hospital.
"We will make sure she gets as much care as possible, physically and emotionally," said Ada County Sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Dearden.
A separate investigative team from the FBI was still on the scene in Valley County Sunday to perform a review of the shooting incident. Until that investigation is complete, officials said they would not be sharing any further details.
Meanwhile the father of the girl, who is still mourning the loss of his wife and son in the San Diego County, Calif., murders, is in Idaho today to be reunited with his daughter.
"We wanted it to end safely and to bring Hannah home," said Dearden. "That's exactly what happened."
By late Saturday night, most of the law enforcement agents had left the area.
UPDATE: 6 p.m., Aug. 10, 2013
40-year-old James Lee Dimaggio, suspected of killing two people and kidnapping the 16-year-old daughter and sister of the murder victims, was shot and killed Aug. 10 while trying to elude nearly 200 members of various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Law enforcement officials confirmed that DiMaggio had been shot by an FBI tactical agent during an arrest attempt near the north end of Morehead Lake. The incident happened about 5:20 p.m..
The girl, who had been reported missing since the murder of her relatives, was transported to a local hospital.
Anyone familiar with Valley County understands how many places there are to hide in the backcountry surrounding the tourist meccas of McCall and Cascade. That's why multiple local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have descended on the region in their search for a man wanted in connection with two murders and a kidnapping in San Diego, Calif.
Shortly after an Amber Alert started flashing on smartphones throughout the region, law enforcement officials said they had discovered a car belonging to 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio, who is believed to be traveling with 16-year-old Hannah Anderson, whose mother was found dead—her body charred, along with an unidentified second victim believed to be Anderson's 8-year-old brother—in the burned wreckage of DiMaggio's San Diego area home Sunday, Aug. 4.
The car—a Nissan Vesa—was covered with brush in an apparent attempt at concealment about six miles outside of Cascade. Camping gear was found inside the vehicle. Witnesses told police that they spotted two people matching the suspect and girl walking in the Cascade area on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
"It's treacherous terrain. It's backcountry," said Ada County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Andrea Dearden, who is also serving as a point person for the joint law enforcement effort. "We're going to bring in any resources we can on the ground and in the air to make this search successful."
Police worried that DiMaggio's car might have been wired with explosives, but none were found.
Investigators said DiMaggio was a "family friend" of the Andersons—who reportedly admitted to having a crush on 16-year-old Hannah—and had allegedly lured her and her brother to his house before killing the mother and boy, setting his house ablaze and kidnapping Anderson.
Saturday's search area is massive: more than 300 square miles.