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Chance encounter in Idaho wilderness led to Southern California teen's rescue

BOISE, Idaho — The highly publicized multistate search for a Southern California teenage girl probably would have taken longer if she and her abductor hadn't encountered a sharp-eyed retired sheriff and three others riding horseback in Idaho's rugged backcountry, authorities said.

The girl, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson, was rescued Saturday afternoon after the former sheriff passed along his suspicions, allowing investigators to focus efforts on a southwest corner of wilderness in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, a 3,600-square-mile roadless preserve in the heart of Idaho.

At a news conference Sunday in Boise, 71-year-old Mark John and his three riding mates shared the details of their meeting with Anderson and James Lee DiMaggio, who was later killed in a shootout during the rescue at a remote, alpine lake.

"They just didn't fit," said John, who retired as Gem County sheriff in 1996. "He might have been an outdoorsman in California, but he was not an outdoorsman in Idaho. ... Red flags kind of went up."

Initially, it was the lack of openness on the trail and a reluctance to engage in the polite exchange of banter like so many other recreationists John has encountered during his various horseback excursions.


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