NEW: Texts, letters with eventual abductor "weren't anything bad," Hannah Anderson says
"In the beginning I was a victim, but ... I consider myself a survivor instead," she tells NBC
It is her first television interview since her alleged abduction on August 4
Since her return August 10, a series of twists have emerged in the story
In her first television interview since she was freed following an alleged kidnapping this month, Hannah Anderson described herself as a survivor, and thanked those who have supported her.
James DiMaggio’s family is requesting DNA samples from the family of Hannah Anderson, the 16-year-old girl he’s accused of kidnapping and whose mother and brother were found dead in his burned home.
James DiMaggio allegedly kidnapped Hannah on August 4. Police later found the bodies of her mother and brother at DiMaggio’s burned home, about an hour east of San Diego.
After evading authorities for a week, DiMaggio was spotted in the Idaho wilderness on August 10, nearly 1,000 miles from where the alleged kidnapping occurred.
An FBI agent shot him dead and Hannah, 16, was returned to her family in Southern California.
In the interview, portions of which NBC aired Thursday morning, Hannah addressed rampant speculation online about text messages and letters she exchanged with DiMaggio.
The two texted the day she was abducted because he was supposed to pick her up from cheerleading camp and he needed directions, she said. Earlier letters involved advice about her relationship with her mother, the teen told NBC.
“They weren’t anything bad, they were just to help me through tough times,” she told “Today.”
She also thanked law enforcement officials and others involved in her rescue. She singled out the horseback riders who first spotted her in the Idaho wilderness.
“I’d like to say thank you, because without them I probably wouldn’t be here right now,” she said.
‘Rumors that Jim might be the father’
Since her return, a series of twists have emerged, including a request by DiMaggio’s family that DNA testing be conducted on Hannah and her 8-year-old brother, whose body was found in the alleged kidnapper’s torched home.
“We are going to be requesting from the Anderson family that we try to get DNA samples from Hannah. And if they have anything left from Ethan, that we get a DNA sample,” family spokesman Andrew Spanswick told CNN affiliate KGTV. “There has been a lot of rumors that Jim might be the father of either or both children.”
A representative for the Anderson family appeared to shoot down the theory.
“Brett and Tina Anderson did not meet Mr. DiMaggio until the sixth month of Tina’s pregnancy with Hannah. Brett Anderson’s DNA was used to identify the body of his dead son Ethan Anderson,” the family statement said.
And David Braun, Tina Anderson’s uncle, reacted angrily to the idea.
“I would tell them to shut up with their accusations and their implications up until after the funeral, until after my precious Tina and precious Ethan are buried – the family members that your family murdered,” Braun said. “That’s what I would tell them.”
A complex case
With each passing day since then, the case has taken on added complexity.
On Monday, the Anderson family spokeswoman told CNN that DiMaggio, 40, left a life insurance policy from his job as a telecommunications tech that named Hannah and Ethan’s grandmother, Bernice Anderson, as the beneficiary.
Stacy Hess, the Anderson family spokeswoman, did not know the dollar amount, but other media outlets put it at around $110,000.
“We find it very strange that he has left all this money without any explanation,” Spanswick told KGTV, in explaining the need for the DNA tests.
“We find it very strange that he has left all this money without any explanation. It states specifically that he didn’t want to give it to either parent cause he didn’t trust them,” spokesman Spanswick said, referring to Hannah’s parents.
The Anderson children called DiMaggio “Uncle Jim.” One search warrant referred to Hannah’s mother as DiMaggio’s “best friend’s wife.”
One search warrant referred to Hannah’s mother as the wife of DiMaggio’s best friend.
Hannah spotted with captor
Hannah was seen in a car with DiMaggio about 20 hours before he allegedly set fire to his house, police said Tuesday.
The two were seen in DiMaggio’s blue Nissan Versa just after midnight Sunday, August 4, said San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell. She confirmed reporting from the Los Angeles Times that the two were spotted at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.
Caldwell did not say what the two were doing together, or if Hannah Anderson was with DiMaggio voluntarily.
CNN was unable to get an Anderson family response to this revelation.
Actions raise eyebrows
A friend of Hannah’s told authorities “DiMaggio took her on multiple day trips,” according to a search warrant.
The same document says that a fire was reported at around 8 p.m. later that day at DiMaggio’s two-story log cabin and a detached garage in Boulevard, California.
After battling the fire, authorities found the bodies of the teenager’s mother, Christina Anderson, and Ethan.
An affidavit claimed that both had been “tortured and killed” by DiMaggio, who then set his home and garage ablaze.
San Diego County deputies searching DiMaggio’s charred home found a handwritten note, handcuff box, camping equipment, a DNA swab kit, two used condoms and letters from Hannah, according to an affidavit.
Contents of the letters and the handwritten note were not revealed in the affidavit.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Dave Alsup and Greg Botelho contributed to this report