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California authorities searching for missing siblings after mother slain

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Authorities searched on Tuesday for a man they suspected of setting fire to his Southern California home, killing a woman thought to be a close friend and abducting one or both of her children before trying to flee the state.

The remains of the woman and an unidentified child were discovered at the house, whose owner, 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio, was believed to be headed for either Texas or Canada, authorities said.

Officials suspect DiMaggio in the slaying of Christina Anderson, 44, with whom he apparently had a "close, platonic relationship," the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The sheriff's statement also said DiMaggio is believed to have kidnapped one or both of Anderson's children - 16-year-old Hannah and 8-year-old Ethan.

Christina Anderson's body was discovered on Sunday night by firefighters sent to DiMaggio's home, the sheriff's department said in a statement. The house and a detached garage in the unincorporated desert community of Boulevard, east of San Diego near the Mexican border, were both found in flames.

Investigators determined that Anderson, a resident of the San Diego suburb of Lakeside, had been slain. They did not release details. The cause and manner of death for the child found in the rubble were not yet determined.

A dog also found killed in the same building, the sheriff's office said.

An Amber Alert child-abduction notice was issued for both Anderson children, but it was not immediately clear whether detectives believed one of them might have been the unidentified child found dead at the fire scene.

Authorities did not say whether they have any theories on a possible motive in the case.

(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Marty Graham; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott)

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