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Murder warrant issued for Amber Alert suspect

  • Amber Alert still in effect for 16-year-old Hannah and 8-year-old Ethan Anderson after mother found dead
  • Remains of a child found in DiMaggio's burned-out home have not been identified
  • Suspect James DiMaggio is described as a close friend of the family
The father of two Southern California children who were reported missing after their mother was killed made an emotional plea to the suspect in the case to return his daughter safely Tuesday night.

An arrest warrant for murder has been issued for the suspect in the killing of a Southern California woman and the abduction of one or both of her children.

A San Diego County Superior Court official confirmed to CNN Wednesday that a warrant for James Lee DiMaggio was filed Tuesday and that bond is set at $1 million.

A statewide Amber Alert is still in effect in California for 16-year-old Hannah and 8-year-old Ethan Anderson after their mother’s body was recovered from DiMaggio’s burned home.

A national manhunt is underway for DiMaggio, 40, whom authorities described as a “close platonic” friend of the children's mother, 42-year-old Christina Anderson.

Anderson's body was found by emergency personnel responding to a fire at DiMaggio’s Boulevard home around 8 p.m. Sunday. They also recovered the remains of a child and the body of a dog from the rubble.

A law enforcement source close to the investigation told CNN Wednesday that the child’s remains were consistent with those of an 8-year-old, but authorities are still awaiting DNA tests to identify the body.

San Diego Sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said earlier Wednesday that authorities are remaining hopeful that Ethan may still be alive.

“We believe that DiMaggio abducted both children,” Giannantonio said on CNN’s New Day. “There is a possibility that the child’s remains found in the burned-out home there is that of Ethan, but we just don’t know.”

“We’re holding out hope that Ethan is still alive and OK with Hannah and hopefully we’ll be able to get them both back,” Giannantonio said.

However, he cautioned, “I don’t want any of the public to think if they see someone fitting the description of DiMaggio and Hannah, it’s not them because Ethan isn’t with them.”

The children’s father made an emotional plea for DiMaggio to return his daughter safely in a public statement Tuesday night.

“Jim, I can’t fathom what you were thinking. The damage is done. I’m begging you to let my daughter go. You’ve taken everything else,” Brett Anderson said.

At a vigil Tuesday night, cousin Hallie Landy had this message for Hannah: “If you get a chance, if you’re alone, run, please. Please just run as fast as you can.”

Investigators have been receiving tips since minutes after issuing the Amber Alert Monday, but Giannantonio told CNN Wednesday that no positive sightings of DiMaggio or the children have been reported.

Giannantonio said DiMaggio was very close with the Anderson family. He said investigators do not know why Christina and the children were at DiMaggio’s home on Sunday, but it was not uncommon for them to be there.

A close friend of Hannah told HLN Tuesday that DiMaggio has known the children their whole lives.

“My parents always thought he was really weird. He’s like 40, and he’d want to spend his time with 15-year-old girls and take us wherever we want,” Marissa Chavez said.

Chavez said DiMaggio recently took Hannah to Hollywood as a sweet 16 birthday present, but they returned from the trip early after getting into an argument.

“He was mad because she was on her phone the whole time and not paying attention to him,” Chavez said.

Marissa’s mother, Kimberly Chavez, told HLN that DiMaggio always seemed “a little iffy” to her, but she allowed him to drive her daughter around because the Andersons trusted him.

Kimberly Chavez said Marissa knew Hannah and her family had planned to go to DiMaggio’s house over the weekend.

Marissa Chavez said she has tried calling and texting DiMaggio since the alleged abduction and he has not responded.

Another friend of Hannah's told HLN affiliate KGTV that DiMaggio had recently told Hannah he had a crush on her and she did not want to be alone with him anymore.

The Sheriff's Office released several photos of DiMaggio, and Giannantonio said he is believed to be driving a blue, four-door Nissan Versa with California license plate 6WCU986.

However, he might have switched vehicles, taken public transportation or could be hunkered down somewhere, Giannantonio said.

Some photos showed DiMaggio with a mustache and beard, but authorities believe he is now clean-shaven.

Giannantonio warned anyone who sees DiMaggio and the children that he may be “extremely dangerous” and they should not approach him or attempt to detain him. Instead, Giannantonio advised people to call 911.

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.

Additional reporting by Raising America's Anna Gonzalez & CNN's Paul Vercammen and Miguel Marquez.

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