NEWPORT, Ky. — The person who was found wandering in a Kentucky neighborhood is not Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared nearly eight years ago, the FBI said Thursday.
That individual told authorities he was the missing child from Aurora, Illinois, and described how he fled from his alleged kidnappers and ran across a bridge into Kentucky, according to a police report.
But DNA results proved he is not the missing child, the FBI’s Louisville office said. The male who claimed to be Timmothy actually is 23-year-old Brian Michael Rini of Medina, Ohio, said the police chief of Newport, Kentucky.
“I just got a text from a family member that it’s not him. I’m floored!” Timmothy’s uncle Michael Jacobs said in an interview with CNN.
Missing since 2011
Almost eight years ago, Timmothy and his mother went on a road trip that included stops at a zoo and a water park. Their adventure started after Amy Fry-Pitzen checked her 6-year-old son out of an Illinois elementary school on May 11, 2011.
Three days later, the mother’s body was found in a hotel room in Rockford, Illinois. She had died by suicide, leaving behind a note that said her son was with people who love him.
“You’ll never find him,” the note said.
An anxious person identified himself as Timmothy
Sharon Hall told CNN she noticed a “fidgety” boy in her Newport neighborhood, not far from the Ohio-Kentucky border. A neighbor’s daughter called police after the boy told them he had run for two hours and that his stomach hurt.
When authorities arrived, he told them his name was Timmothy Pitzen, 14, and he had fled two men who kept him captive for seven years, most recently at a nearby Red Roof Inn, according to a police report.
The alleged kidnappers had distinctive tattoos
The individual had described his kidnappers as two men of “bodybuilder type build.” One had a spiderweb tattoo on his neck, and the other had a snake tattoo on his arm, the report said.
The men drove a Ford SUV with Wisconsin plates, police said. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has said Timmothy was last seen at a water park in Wisconsin in 2011.
Now police in multiple states are trying to find the suspects.
“We’re tracking down every lead possible,” said Chris Fangman of the Newport Police Department in Kentucky. “We’re all working together very fluidly and very well.”
He said he just wanted to get home
People who talked to the boy before police arrived said he was anxious and pleaded for help.
“He walked up to my car and he went, ‘Can you help me?’ ” a 911 caller told dispatchers, according to WCPO. ” ‘I just want to get home. Please help me.’ I asked him what’s going on, and he tells me he’s been kidnapped and he’s been traded through all these people and he just wanted to go home.”
It was unclear what city he had been in before arriving in Newport. Police checked Red Roof Inns in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas but did not find any clues, according to the report.
The family searched desperately for years
For years, Timmothy’s family has searched for him in several states.
“I have one image. It’s the day I dropped him off at school and he’s off — running off to class — and that’s pretty much the last image I have in my mind of him,” Timmothy’s father, Jim Pitzen, told CNN in 2015.
The day before his mother killed herself, she made several calls from an unknown location to family members, including her mother. She assured them that Timmothy was safe.
Over the years, family members have said the mother had a history of depression, and her marriage was failing. Her biggest fear was that a judge would take her son away because of her mental health issues, according to relatives.
Security video footage from their stops showed a relaxed and beaming mother and son on what appeared to be a fun adventure.
“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,” Sgt. Bill Rowley, a spokesman for Aurora police, said in a statement.