DNA Proves Boy Claiming to Be Missing Illinois Child Is Not Timmothy Pitzen
"A local investigation continues into this person's true identity," FBI Louisville tweeted.
Using DNA, authorities have concluded that a young man found bruised and acting scared Wednesday on a Kentucky street who claimed he’d been abducted and gave his name as Timmothy Pitzen is not, in fact, the child who went missing in 2011 at age six.
- RELATED: Toddler Was Kidnapped from Bowling Alley When It Was Mom’s Turn to Bowl: 'I Want My Baby Home'
At 4:37 pm EST Thursday, FBI Louisville tweeted, “DNA results have been returned indicating the person in question is not Timmothy Pitzen.”
In a followup tweet, the agency stated: “A local investigation continues into this person’s true identity. To be clear, law enforcement has not and will not forget Timmothy, and we hope to one day reunite him with his family. Unfortunately, that day will not be today.”
Later in the day, Thomas Collins, the police chief in Newport, Kentucky, confirmed that the man who claimed to be Pitzen is actually 23-year-old Brian Michael Rini, ABC 7 Chicago, Fox 8 Cleveland, and WLWT5 report.
The Medina, Ohio, native reportedly has a history of legal trouble and documented mental health issues, according to authorities.
After learning the young man was not Pitzen, members of Pitzen’s extended family told the media they were “devastated” as they were forced to revisit the loss they experienced eight years ago, when the boy vanished along with his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, after she checked him out of his school in Aurora, Illinois, without alerting her husband and the boy’s father, Jim Pitzen.
Three days later Timmothy’s mother was found dead in a motel room with self-inflicted slashes on her wrists and neck, along with a note in which she wrote that Timmothy was “safe” with others who would love and care for him.
She added, “You will never find him.”
The family members said the FBI had Timmothy’s DNA on record, and tested it against the young man found on the streets of Newport, Kentucky — but sadly it did not match.
“Timmothy’s father is devastated once again,” the boy’s maternal grandmother, Alana Anderson, said on camera. “He’s a wonderful little boy and I hope he has the strength and personality to … find us.”
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Aurora Police said, “Although we are disappointed that this turned out to be a hoax, we remain diligent in our search for Timmothy, as our missing person’s case remains unsolved.”
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said in a statement to PEOPLE: “As details emerge about the boy found in Kentucky, the search for Timmothy Pitzen continues.”
“For eight long years, Timmothy’s family has never given up hope that he will be found,” the statement said. “Here at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we will keep working to make sure this happens. Investigators have worked tirelessly in the search for Timmothy and we know that those efforts will continue. While everyone wants to know more, we ask that you remember that this is a sensitive time for Timmothy’s family as they process this information and move forward in their search for answers.”
It’s a shocking update in a missing-child case that PEOPLE has been tracking for years.
Boy Told Police He Was Timmothy Pitzen — and Described Alleged Captors
On Wednesday, the young man found wandering the streets of Newport identified himself to neighbors and police as Pitzen. He later told police across the Ohio River in Sharonville, Ohio, that he’d been held by two men for seven years, and that they’d been staying there with them in a Red Roof Inn. He said he escaped his captors and ran across an Ohio River bridge from Ohio to Kentucky.
When several residents of Newport spotted the young man they’d never seen before, he initially seemed suspicious to them, reports WLWT. But one of those residents said she soon realized he needed help.
“He walked up to my car, and he went, ‘Can you help me? I just want to get home. Can you just please help me?’” the woman, who did not want to be identified, told the station.
She added, “I asked him what was going on, and he told me he’s been kidnapped and he’s been traded through all these people. He just wanted to go home. He needed help.”
The woman added that the boy “looked like he’d been beat up or something. He had a really big bruise on his face.”
She told the station he identified himself as Timmothy Pitzen.
Sharonville police offered few details in a police report that revealed the initial results of their investigation. “Timothy [sic] is originally from Illinois and was last known to be with his mother, who apparently had killed herself,” the report stated.
The report said the boy “described the two kidnappers as two male, whites, body-builder type build.” One had black hair, a Mountain Dew shirt and jeans and a spider web tattoo on his neck, while the other was “short in stature and had a snake tattoo on his arms.”
The police report states the boy didn’t know the location of the Red Roof Inn where he’d been held captive. Sharonville police searched a local Red Roof Inn as well as surrounding motels, but “but nothing was found,” the report states.
Sharonville police contacted all surrounding agencies with a Red Roof Inn in their jurisdictions.
Timmothy Vanished in 2011 After Mom Picked Him Up Early From School
Timmothy’s father, Jim Pitzen, dropped him off at school on the morning of May 11, 2011. The boy said goodbye to his parents, bounding toward his teacher in “this little waddle run, like a chubby old man,” Jim recalled to PEOPLE in 2015. “I told him I loved him and to be good. And then he was gone.”
Thirty minutes later, Jim’s wife, Amy, 42, returned to pick up Timmothy at school, citing a family emergency.
Subsequently, Timmothy and his mother disappeared.
- RELATED: North Carolina Boy, 3, Found After Missing in the Woods for 2 Days. He Says He 'Hung Out With a Bear'
Those close to Amy told PEOPLE in 2015 that she struggled with mental illness and had once tried to kill herself. They added that she never wanted a child.
Jim told PEOPLE there were strains in the couple’s marriage, and he told police that when she took Timmothy, she left without her prescribed medication for depression.
After she took Timmothy, police say Amy turned her phone off, presumably not wanting to be tracked as Jim and others tried tried to reach her. On the third day after they vanished, she briefly surfaced, ignoring Jim’s messages but calling her brother as well as police, telling authorities that she and her son were not missing and that Timmothy was fine.
The trail of Amy’s movements evaporated after her call to police. But on that day, she checked into a hotel room in Rockford, Illinois, where she was later found dead from the apparent suicide, with the ominous note left behind.
“A lot of people think she killed him,” Jim told PEOPLE in 2015. “But she loved that little guy so much. I can’t see her killing him. I just can’t.”
Aurora police are continuing their investigation into Timmothy’s whereabouts, according to a tweet from the FBI’s Louisville office.
Person with information are requested to call the Aurora police at 630-256-5000 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE LOST.