In 2011, 6-year-old Timmothy Pitzen was pulled out of an Aurora, Illinois school by his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen. The two went on a three-day vacation that included a trip to the Brookfield Zoo and a water park, Key Lime Cove.
At the end of the trip, Fry-Pitzen was found dead in a Rockford, Illinois hotel room in an apparent suicide. She left behind a note saying “Tim is somewhere safe with people who love him and will care for him.” She added: “You will never find him,” according to ABC7 Chicago. Months later, police reported a “concerning” amount of blood had been found in the back seat of Fry-Pitzen’s SUV belonging to Timmothy.
On Wednesday, a teenage boy was seen wandering the streets in Newport, Kentucky. Residents called police and the boy reportedly approached a woman in her car to ask for help. The woman stayed with the teen until police arrived.
“He looked like he had been beat up, punched in the face a couple of times,” one resident told ABC7. “You could see the fear on him and how nervous he was and how he kept pacing. He just looked odd.”
The boy allegedly asked residents to “call the cops” because he was tired, his stomach hurt, and had been “running for two hours.” He told police that he was Timmothy Pitzen and had been held captive for seven years by two white men who were “body-builder types.” He said he had just escaped and ran across the bridge between Ohio and Kentucky, according to Reuters. He also said he had been kept at a Red Roof Inn and his captors had been driving a “newer model Ford SUV,” according to a police report reviewed by ABC7. Investigators were dispatched to search nearby Red Roof Inns.
Police in Pitzen’s hometown of Aurora are currently running a DNA test to confirm the teen’s identity, the results of which may be released Thursday afternoon.
Pitzen’s grandmother has been “cautiously optimistic” about the situation, telling ABC 7 that she and her family “never stopped looking for him.”
If the teen is indeed Pitzen, it will be one of the most incredible endings to a kidnapped child since Elizabeth Smart was found alive after being held for nine months between 2002 and 2003. Though many initially suspected her father had something to do with her disappearance, Smart was indeed abducted and her captors were arrested. Brian David Mitchell was found guilty of kidnapping and sexual assault and sentenced to two life terms in a federal prison. Wanda Barzee plead guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
In another case of a missing boy, however, the “teen” claiming to be the missing boy turned out to be an imposter from France nicknamed “The Chameleon.” Frederic Bourdin pretended to be missing Texas boy Nicholas Barclay, who disappeared when he was 13. Though Bourdin was clearly not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed teenager (he was nearly 23 at the time of his claim), he was taken in by Barclay’s family until a private investigator determined definitively that he was not the missing teen.
UPDATE: Tragically, a DNA test conducted by the FBI has confirmed that the teenager is not Timmothy Pitzen, as he claimed, nor is he even a teenager.
“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,” FBI Louisville Supervisory Special Agent Timothy Beam told ABC in a statement.
The “teenager” is actually 24-year-old Brian Michael Rini of Medina, Ohio, according to CBS Chicago. WLWT reporter Dan Griffin reported the news on Twitter, adding that police are still looking into Rini’s story of kidnapping.
“Newport Police say the guy’s real name is Brian Michael Rini. 23 years old. From Medina, Ohio. They are still looking into his story of kidnapping, but also add he gave false statements and is obviously not 14,” Griffin tweeted.