Family Remembers Christina and Ethan Anderson at Memorial

The Lakeside, Calif. mother and son were murdered on Aug. 4 by accused abductor and longtime family friend James Lee DiMaggio

By Monica Garske
|  Saturday, Aug 24, 2013  |  Updated 9:29 PM EDT
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Kidnap survivor Hannah Anderson and her family mourned Christina Anderson, 44, and Ethan Anderson, 8, at a public memorial. The Lakeside mother and son were killed by kidnap and murder suspect James DiMaggio on Aug. 4. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

Kidnap survivor Hannah Anderson and her family mourned Christina Anderson, 44, and Ethan Anderson, 8, at a public memorial. The Lakeside mother and son were killed by kidnap and murder suspect James DiMaggio on Aug. 4. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

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Anderson Memorial: 'Christina Was a Devoted Mother'

A memorial service was held on August 24, 2013 for Christina and Ethan Anderson. Christina's uncle, David Braun, delivered a eulogy at the service, remembering Christina as a devoted mother and wonderful person.

Anderson Memorial: Eulogy, Part II

A memorial service was held in Santee, Calif., on August 24, 2013 for Christina and Ethan Anderson. Christina's uncle, David Braun, delivered a heartfelt eulogy.
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Kidnap survivor Hannah Anderson and her family mourned Christina Anderson, 44, and Ethan Anderson, 8, at a memorial service on Saturday at a church in San Diego’s Santee community.

“This was a national tragedy. It has been very painful. It has been un-ending pain and sorrow. I can say that it has been and still is the very worst tragedy to befall our entire heritage as a family,” said Christina's uncle, David Braun, while delivering the eulogy.

Approximately 450 people attended the 11 a.m. memorial service, which was open to the public, at the Guardian Angels Roman Catholic Church.

Neither Hannah nor her father, Brett Anderson, spoke at the service. The family has repeatedly asked for privacy during this difficult time.

The memorial program included a Biblical reading of “Letter to the Romans” (7: 3-9), the singing of hymns and prayers. Read the full program here.

Prior to the ceremony, Hannah greeted and hugged friends and relatives.

During the service, Hannah and her father sat at the front of the church, surrounded by family. They were both visibly emotional during certain moments. At one point, Hannah wiped tears from her face while her grandmother comforted her.

Anderson family member Braun -- Christina's uncle and Hannah's great uncle -- delivered a touching eulogy. He was the only member of the family to speak on Saturday about the lives of Christina and Ethan.

Braun said "Little Man Ethan" was a handsome boy “full of spirit.”

“He loved football. What a kid to have as a son, brother and member of our family. You just wanted to be his buddy,” said Braun.

When referring to Christina – or “Tiny Tina” as nicknamed by her family – Braun called her a devoted mother and wonderful person.

“She was very devoted to her children, full of life and always ready to help out if you needed a friend or a favor,” said Braun.

“We will miss them forever. We will always remember [Christina and Ethan] and ask: ‘What could’ve been?’” he continued.

Braun said their family will forever be impacted by the tragic events that have transpired.

Braun went on to thank friends, neighbors, the public and law enforcement for their “tremendous support” of their family. He also said the family's prayers were answered with the safe return of Hannah, and thanked the media and Amber Alert system for playing an important role in her rescue.

“For the media, and the Amber Alerts for Ethan and Hannah nationwide, to the four ranchers in Idaho on their horses, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you have all helped save our Hannah’s life, and we sincerely thank you from our hearts.”

Following the service, Braun spoke with NBC 7 and said he hopes the FBI and other law enforcement officials continue to investigate the deaths of Christina and Ethan.

Earlier this week, an obituary for both Christina and Ethan Anderson appeared in a San Diego newspaper.

The obituary gave personal insight into the lives of the Lakeside mother and son, whose charred bodies were discovered by officials on Aug. 4 at the burned out property of kidnap and murder suspect James Lee DiMaggio in the community of Boulevard, near San Diego.

According to the obituary, Christina – known as “Tina” – was originally from Georgia but moved to San Diego’s La Mesa community with her family at the age of 8. She went on to graduate from Santana High School and then Merric College San Diego as a holistic health practitioner.

Tina loved dance, fitness and NASCAR, and was a big fan of professional driver Jimmie Johnson.

She’s survived by her husband, Brett Anderson and her daughter Hannah, along with her mother Sara Britt, stepfather Ralph Britt and many other loved ones.

As for Ethan – known simply as “E” – the obituary described him as a caring “buddy to all his family and friends.”

Ethan was born on October 8, 2004, in La Mesa to Christina and Brett Anderson.

He was a 4th grade student at Lindo Lake Elementary School where he earned awards for good citizenship.

He also enjoyed sports, playing baseball and Pee-Wee football for the Lakeside Longhorns football team. His jersey was No. 27. Ethan also loved fishing and was a NASCAR fan, like his mother.

The memorial service for Christina and Ethan came exactly two weeks to the day when 16-year-old kidnap survivor Hannah Anderson was rescued by authorities in Idaho backcountry.

According to search warrants, investigators believe DiMaggio – a longtime friend of the Anderson family – “tortured and killed” Christina and Ethan on Aug. 4 before allegedly kidnapping Hannah.

DiMaggio then fled San Diego with Hannah, sparking an Amber Alert that spanned across six states.

TIMELINE: The Search for Hannah Anderson

The pair ended up in the rugged Idaho backcountry near Cascade and Morehead Lake, where they were spotted by a group of horseback riders on Aug. 7.

After seeing the Amber Alert, the riders reported the sighting to authorities, leading more than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officials to the rural community in Idaho in search of Hannah and DiMaggio.

The pair was ultimately found by an FBI tactical team near Morehead Lake on Aug. 10.

Hannah was rescued safely by officials. DiMaggio was shot at least five times and killed at the scene.

Since then, authorities have declined to discuss a possible motive for the double-murder and abduction, and haven't addressed other details of the case, including how Hannah was treated by DiMaggio during the ordeal.

Hannah has since reunited with her family, including father Brett Anderson, and returned home to San Diego.

Days after her rescue, the teen was fielding questions about her kidnapping on social media. On Aug. 15, she made her first public appearance since her rescue at a fundraiser held for her family at a restaurant in her hometown of Lakeside, Calif.

There, Hannah's father briefly spoke to the media saying his daughter was "doing good, day by day."

On Aug. 24, Hannah and her father attended another local fundraiser. There, Hannah briefly spoke on camera for the first time, thanking the public for their support.

Earlier this week Hannah spoke exclusively to NBC's "Today" about her mother and brother. The teenager teared up when remembering her little brother and called herself a "survivor."

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