A massive manhunt was under way Tuesday in Southern California as authorities searched for two children missing after the apparent murder of their mother.
Police are looking for James DiMaggio, 40, whom law enforcement authorities describe as a “platonic” friend of Christina Anderson, 44, of Lakeside, California, San Diego County authorities said.
Anderson’s remains were found while firefighters extinguished a blaze that broke out at DiMaggio’s home in the enclave of Boulevard around 8 p.m. Sunday.
Officials also recovered the remains of a child at the scene. The child has not been identified at this point.
“It has been determined that Ms. Anderson has been murdered,” San Diego County Homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.
Now authorities are looking for Anderson’s children, Hannah, 16, and Ethan, 8, DiMaggio, the owner and sole resident of the burned home.
“We believe one or more of the children are with him,” Giannantonio said. An Amber Alert has been issued.
Police believe the children were last seen with their mother Saturday in Boulevard. They were reported missing by their grandparents on Sunday. Giannantonio said he did not know what led the grandparents to believe their grandchildren were missing.
According to Giannantonio, DiMaggio and Christina Anderson had “a close platonic relationship” but were not romantically involved.
He would not release any details about how Anderson was killed, but he did say that arson investigators believe they know how the fire was started.
Authorities also found burned remains of weapons in the residence, but Giannantonio did not disclose what those weapons were.
The sheriff’s office released several photos of DiMaggio, who Giannantonio said is believed to be driving a blue four-door Nissan Versa with California license plate 6WCU986.
The FBI is assisting with the investigation.
Authorities said they believe DiMaggio may be headed toward Texas or Canada with one or both of Anderson’s children.
“We need the public’s help in locating these people,” Giannantonio said.
He also warned anyone who sees DiMaggio and the children that he may be dangerous and they should not approach or attempt to detain him. Instead, they are advised to call 911.
A sheriff’s department spokesperson said Tuesday morning that no new information was available on the investigation. The California Highway Patrol Border Division referred questions to the sheriff’s department.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detail at 858-974-2321 or submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.
Steve Loiaconi | HLNtv.com