Hannah Anderson’s mother was beaten to death but her 8-year-old brother’s body was too badly damaged by fire for investigators to determine his cause of death, according to autopsy reports obtained by CNN.
While previously released documents indicated that authorities believed Christina and Ethan Anderson were “tortured and killed” by longtime family friend James Lee DiMaggio before he kidnapped 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and set his house on fire, the autopsy reports reveal new details about their deaths.
When firefighters and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived at DiMaggio’s Boulevard, California home on August 4, they found his two-story log cabin home engulfed in flames and smoke rising from the detached garage.
While some firefighters worked to put out the house fire, others entered the garage and extinguished the fire there. Inside the garage, they discovered Christina Anderson’s body underneath a partially-melted green tarp.
According to the autopsy report, Anderson’s ankles were bound with a large white plastic cable tie and several layers of duct tape were wrapped around her neck and mouth.
The Anderson family’s dog was also found dead from gunshot wounds in the garage.
The charred remains of Ethan Anderson were recovered from the rubble of the house on August 5, burned beyond recognition. DNA was later used to identify his remains.
Autopsies on both bodies were performed on August 6.
Medical examiners found “a minimum of 12 blunt force impact sites” on Christina Anderson’s head, primarily concentrated on the back of the head with others the forehead and the bridge of her nose.
Abrasions, lacerations and contusions were observed on her right arm and left leg. There were “palpable fractures” to her right wrist. Anderson had also suffered thermal burns to her head, torso and extremities.
Carbon monoxide tests could not be done, but a lack of soot in Anderson’s airway suggested that the burns occurred after death, according to the report.
“Blunt force injury of the head” was listed as her cause of death.
Autopsy results were less clear for Ethan Anderson. The charring of the body and tissue loss prevented a conclusive determination of cause of death, but his manner of death was classified as a homicide.
Blunt force injuries, sharp force injuries, asphyxia and gunshot wounds could not be excluded as possible causes of death, according to the autopsy report. There was no soot in his airway, but the medical examiner could not establish whether he was alive at the time the fire started.
However, a forensic anthropologist who examined Ethan Anderson’s remains concluded that his cause of death was “most likely due to fire.”
Following an extensive interstate manhunt, James DiMaggio was shot and killed by an FBI agent in the Idaho wilderness on August 10. Hannah Anderson was rescued and safely returned to her family.
“In the beginning I considered myself a victim,” Anderson said on NBC’s “Today” in late August. “But now, knowing everyone out there’s helping me, I consider myself a survivor instead.”