Like father, like son? DiMaggio's dad had violent past - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Like father, like son? DiMaggio's dad had violent past

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - In an exclusive News 8 interview -- we are learning new, and disturbing information about DiMaggio's family history.

Today marks the anniversary of the day his father committed suicide. 

We have also learned that the elder DiMaggio had an extensive criminal past and once held a teenage girl at gunpoint. 

The woman tells News 8 that DiMaggio's father, who committed suicide exactly 18 years ago today, professed his love to her, when she was 16, showering her with concert tickets and telling her he wanted to take her away to a better life.

She says, to see DiMaggio's son now following in his father's footsteps, is truly frightening.

"When I saw his name and picture, I instantly knew it was him," she said. "When I saw the name, I seriously, my heart stopped for a second."

The search for 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio, suspected of kidnapping 16-year-old Hannah Anderson is bringing back chilling memories for a woman who says DiMaggio's dad did something eerily similar to her.

"I don't believe that you're born this way, but really to follow such a path as your father," she said.

Just like Hannah, this woman says she was 16 back in 1988 when DiMaggio's dad professed his love to her, after breaking up with her mom.

"He had told me, that he only stuck around because he was in love with me, he wanted to take me away to a better life," she said.

After she refused, she says, DiMaggio's dad broke into her house.

She says there was no raging fire, like the one DiMaggio is accused of setting, but his dad did bring handcuffs and a shotgun, she says, and was about to kill her, her boyfriend, and her brother.

"I asked him not to kill us, and he said, don't worry you won't feel a thing."

She says, unlike Hannah, she was able to escape by asking to use the bathroom and that's when DiMaggio's dad ran off.

In the Union Tribune archives, an article from December 1989 details the alleged attack. It says 35-year-old James Everett DiMaggio, was arrested in July after breaking into an ex-girlfriend's home in El Cajon, wearing a stocking mask and carrying a sawed-off shotgun. His ex-girlfriend was not at home, but DiMaggio held the woman's teenage daughter and her boyfriend at gunpoint, said Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wadsworth, who prosecuted the case.

"It was almost a déjà vu... It was weird."

She says the man we now know as 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio, was someone who she knew as 16-year-old Jimmy DiMaggio. Back then, they both attended El Cajon High School and he gave her this message from his dad, at school.

"I was walking to my locker and his son said, my dad is out, and he said to let you know he'll be waiting for you after school."

Now, on the anniversary date of the elder DiMaggio's suicide, this woman is praying for Hannah Anderson.

"I think this girl's a strong girl and if she just keeps her wits and goes with the program, she can make it out. I feel so horrible," she said.

The U-T article from 1989 says the elder DiMaggio was also accused of beating another woman and her boyfriend with a baseball bat because they may have owed him money.

The woman we talked to Saturday, says she has been in hiding for the past 18 years. She left her high school the very day DiMaggio made that threat about his dad, changed her name, moved and is now a nurse. She says she always wondered if they 'd ever cross paths.

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