Originally published 8:58 a.m. Wednesday Aug. 7, 2013.
Hannah Anderson has known Jim DiMaggio most of her life.
He was such a presence among the Anderson family that even her friend Marissa Chavez knew him. Then things began to change.
Sheriffs detectives have said Hannah, 16, and her brother Ethan, 8, regarded DiMaggio as an uncle. But according to her friend, their relationship started to shift a couple of months ago and Hannah confided in Marissa that she no longer wanted to be around DiMaggio.
He started “making comments an uncle figure shouldn't make to his niece,” said Marissa, 15, during the vigil held in her friend's honor at El Capitan High School. “He just made her uncomfortable and creeped out.
“She stopped texting him and she thought she could avoid him,” Marissa continued. “He was like, upset by that.”
Marissa had hoped to have Hannah over to her house Monday. The duo, both juniors at El Capitan, last spoke Friday and Marissa texted Hannah over the weekend.
She never responded and soon Marissa said, she found herself in the midst of a nightmare, where “you find she doesn't text you back and you see on the news that she is missing.”
Marissa never knew Hannah planned to accompany her mother and brother to see DiMaggio at his Boulevard home last weekend. She felt OK, Marissa said, being with him as long as her family was there too.
As the Lakeside community now knows, she would not be OK. Hannah's family is in tatters, with the killing of her mother Christina, 44, a La Mesa native, and the presumed death of Ethan, which authorities are not confirming, but is widely believed among friends and family to be true.
Two bodies were found Sunday in DiMaggio's burned-out home in Boulevard, in a remote corner of San Diego County northwest of the border. He is accused of having killed Christina Anderson, then started the fire to cover up her death. A boy's body also was discovered.
Brett Anderson, Christina's former husband and father to Hannah and Ethan, recently left the San Diego area for a new beginning in Tennessee. He was called back home for the worst of reasons, but calmly addressed both the media and those at the vigil Tuesday.
In each case, he made a plea for Hannah's return, but not for Ethan's, all but confirming what three other relatives have said – that Ethan already is lost.
“Hannah will come back, and Ethan and Tina, I love you both. We all love you,” he said at the vigil.
Detectives said they have received no other reports of missing children connected to the Anderson family or DiMaggio. Autopsy results that were initially expected by Wednesday or Thursday could be further delayed, they said.
Nevertheless, everyone is “pretty certain that Ethan is gone,” said Marissa, who has known the family since fifth grade but has been particularly close to Hannah for two years.
For one young man, Cyrus Dawn, a friend to Hannah and brother of Ethan's best friend, it is too soon to grieve. After his tearful plea to the crowd at the high school vigil, he said is unprepared to give the child up.
“I don't believe that,” he said, refusing to concede Ethan is gone.
The vigil blended prayerful hope for Hannah – a faith that was seemingly rewarded with word of DiMaggio's car being spotted in Orange County Tuesday afternoon – and mourning for Christina and her son.
One young woman fervently promised the crowd they would see Hannah again. A loved one, though, Christina's aunt urged everyone to remember that should Hannah return she will be dealing with more than just trauma from her abduction, but also devastation from the losses of her mother, known as Tina, and Ethan, called “Little E.”
– This article was amended to include a correction of the suspect's name.