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Thursday
Aug222013

Hannah Anderson: Social Media 'Just Helps Me Grieve'

Jesse Grant(NEW YORK) -- After Hannah Anderson's kidnapping ordeal ended and she learned her captor, a trusted family friend, had killed her mother and 8-year-old brother, the teen said she fielded questions on social media because "it just helps me grieve."

The 16-year-old spoke exclusively to NBC's Today in her first interview since FBI agents killed her captor, James DiMaggio, 40, and rescued her from the Idaho wilderness on Aug. 10.

While her father appealed for privacy in the days after her kidnapping, Anderson used an account on social media site ask.fm, which she later disabled, to answer questions about typical teenage topics, such as her nails and favorite singer. But she also fielded some tough questions about the circumstances of her kidnapping.

Authorities have said DiMaggio may have had an infatuation with Anderson, and she wrote that she had been uncomfortable around him in the past but had not said anything because he was a family friend.

"He said it was more like a family crush, like he had feelings, as in he wanted nothing bad to happen to me," she wrote.

Anderson said she uses social media to keep in contact with her friends.

"I connect to them through Facebook, and Instagram is -- it just helps me grieve, like, post pictures and to show how I'm feeling. And I'm a teenager," she said. "I'm going to go on it."

During the interview with Today, Anderson also clarified the communication she had with DiMaggio on the day authorities said he killed her mother, Christina Anderson, 44, and brother, Ethan Anderson, 8, before setting his house on fire and kidnapping the teen.

Anderson said she was at cheerleading camp at Sweetwater High School and needed a ride home from the man she and her brother knew as "Uncle Jim."

"And he didn't know the address or what -- like, where I was," she said, explaining the volume of text messages. "So I had to tell him the address and tell him that I was gonna be in the gym and not in front of the school."

Anderson did not talk specifically about what she endured during the six days DiMaggio held her captive, but said she wanted to thank the horseback riders who spotted the pair in the Idaho wilderness and tipped off authorities.

"I'd like to say thank you, because without them, I probably wouldn't be here right now," Anderson said.

As FBI agents raided DiMaggio's camp, he fired at them, prompting authorities to shoot and kill him, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

Authorities have declined to reveal a motive.

DiMaggio was such a close friend to the Anderson family that he bypassed his sister and instead named Anderson's paternal grandmother as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy.

The suspect's family said it would like paternity tests to determine whether DiMaggio is the father of the Anderson children.

Andrew Spanswick, a spokesman for DiMaggio's family, said they are not contesting the $112,000 left to Bernice Anderson. However, he did tell ABC News' San Diego affiliate KGTV they are hoping to get a DNA sample from Hannah and "anything they can get" from her brother Ethan, whose body was charred beyond recognition in a house fire.

"There are rumors Jim was the children's real father. The parents didn't marry until 2002. We think it's strange he left them so much money with no explanation," Spanswick said.

Anderson stepped out for the first time since her rescue last week to attend a fundraiser to benefit her recovery and to pay for the funerals of her mother and brother.

A public memorial service for Christina and Ethan Anderson is scheduled for this Saturday at the Guardian Angel Roman Catholic Church in Santee, Calif.

During the interview, Anderson got choked up talking about her family.

"He had a really big heart," she said of her brother.

Anderson remembered her mom as "strong-hearted and very tough."

"She knew how to handle things," Anderson said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio