TODAY Show: Hannah Anderson speaks out


POSTED: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 10:48am

UPDATED: Friday, August 23, 2013 - 7:02am

As 16 year-old Hannah Anderson prepares to bury her mother and brother this weekend, the San Diego teenager is still dealing with the aftermath of her abduction by a family friend, and the week long ordeal that ended in a deadly shootout in Idaho.

The teen is not ready talk about about everything but she wanted to say a few things including clarifying why she'd been communicating with the man she knew as Uncle Joe before he kidnapped her.

Search warrants filed by the San Diego Sheriff's Department show Hannah had written letters to the 40 year-old man in the past and exchanged 13 phone calls or texts with  him on the day she was abducted.

Hannah says there's a good explanation for all of it, NBC's Kate Snow reports.

Hannah Anderson, "The phone calls weren't phone calls. They were texts, because he was picking me up from cheer camp. And he didn't know the address or what-- like, where I was. 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.//just so he knew where to come get me."

That's 16 year-old Hannah Anderson, describing her final hours of freedom, before James DiMaggio abducted her from San Diego, and led authorities on a cross country chase.

DiMaggio's violent rampage started at his own home in the San Diego neighborhood of Boulevard, where he killed Hannah's mother, Christina and her 8 year-old brother, Ethan.

After the fire, San Diego Sheriff's detectives found letters from Hannah in the house, written to DiMaggio.

Hannah Anderson, "And the letters-- were from, like, a year ago, when me and my mom weren't getting along very well. Me and him would talk about how to deal with it. And I'd tell him how I felt about it. And he helped me through it. They weren't anything bad. They're just to help me through tough times."

"Welcome home, Hannah"

As the lone survivor who  knows what happened, Hannah is now the subject of intense scrutiny, "Hannah, anything you'd like to say? Go! Go! Go! Run" and online criticism.

Hannah Anderson, "They don't really know the story. So they kind of have their own opinion on what they hear."

Hannah at Car Wash fundraiser.

Hannah's friends and neighbors are showing their support, raising money to help her pay for this weekend's funeral for her mother and brother.

Hannah Anderson, "He had a really big heart. And."

Hannah struggled as she tried to talk about Ethan, but says her mother instilled a strong spirit within her, that is helping her through tough times.

Hannah Anderson, "She was strong-hearted and very tough. She had a temper, but she knew how to handle things."

Lester Holt, "Tonight, an amber alert spreading across several states and a growing manhunt."

Hannah says she had no idea there was a nationwide search going on for her and had never heard of an Amber Alert.

Hannah Anderson, "I didn't really know what it was. But I know it helped people find me. And it made them, like, realize that it's hard to find people out there. But with everyone's support, it can help a lot."

Despite all of the law enforcement resources dedicated to the Amber Alert, it was a chance encounter with four horseback riders in Idaho, that led to Hannah's rescue from a place called "The river of no return."

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

After the riders notified authorities, it was only a matter of hours before an FBI tactical team confronted DiMaggio near Morehead Lake, killing him in a shootout.

Hannah Anderson, "I wanted to think the horsemen and the Amber Alert and the sheriff and the F.B.I. with everyone that-- put in their time to find me. And my dad and my friends and my family and just all my supporters that helped spread the word in the news. Because the news helped get out there fast."

Today, Hannah is trying to get back to her life as a daughter, a dance, a high school student and leave her past and her critics behind.

Hannah Anderson, "You are who you are. And-- you shouldn't let people change that. And you have your own opinion on yourself and other people's opinion shouldn't matter."

She wanted to thank the people who helped find her and she believes saved her life.

Coming up in part two, there's more conversation with Hannah, including why she decided to go online to talk about  her ordeal, just day's after she was rescued.

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