Letter from Las Vegas — From the February 2014 issue

Bad Romance

One genre and a billion happy endings

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Last August 3, in Boulevard, California, a man named James Lee DiMaggio invited his friend’s wife and son to his home, killed them, shot their dog, and rigged incendiary wire on the property to burn when a timer reached zero. Before the house caught fire, he picked up his friend’s daughter, Hannah, and drove off. The car was a blue Nissan Versa.

No one knew where he’d gone. “Basically,” said a San Diego County sheriff’s lieutenant, “the search area is the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The search area is North America.” AMBER Alerts were active in California, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada, but it seemed possible that DiMaggio, known to be a good hiker, had taken Hannah to the woods.

“He must have really had the hots for her,” says the woman behind the counter at the 7-Eleven near Fremont Street, in north Vegas. It’s a season in the news reserved for wildfires and missing hikers, and the DiMaggio story has been on TV, radio, and the Los Angeles Times home page for days. On the LCD billboards over the Las Vegas Expressway, pictures of DiMaggio and Hannah alternate with advertisements. female | age 16 y.o. | blonde hair. “If it was me,” says a goateed man at a restaurant, “I’d switch cars.”

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is an assistant editor of Harper’s Magazine.

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