For eight long years, Timmothy Pitzen’s surviving family members have wondered what happened to him and, on April 5, 2019.
The then 6-year-old boy disappeared in 2011 when his mother committed suicide at a hotel in Illinois, leaving a cryptic note and the child nowhere to be found. For years, people wondered if Timmothy Pitzen was still alive.
On April 4, 2019, it was revealed that a boy claiming to be Timmothy Pitzen was found wandering the streets by a stranger in Kentucky, claiming he was abducted. DNA tests are being conducted to determine his identity.
However, the FBI’s Louisville office has now stated that the boy is not Timmothy Pitzen. According to Fox Illinois, he’s actually a 24-year-old Medina, Ohio man named Brian Michael Rini. It’s not clear why the man allegedly said he was Pitzen.
Here’s what you need to know about Timmothy Pitzen’s family:
1. Timmothy Pitzen’s Mother Committed Suicide, Leaving Behind No Trace of the Boy
According to the Charley Project, Timmothy Pitzen was born on October 18, 2004, and vanished on May 12, 2011. He lived in Aurora, Illinois. That would make him 14-years-old today. The saga started when his mother, Amy Joan Marie Fry-Pitzen picked him up from his kindergarten class, and then took him to a water park in Gurney, Illinois called Key Lime Cove.
The following day, Amy and Timmothy drove to the Kalahari Resort, which is another water park in Wisconsin Dells, a tourist town in central Wisconsin. Surveillance footage documents their presence there.
The Charley Project reports that Amy made cellular phone calls from the Kalahari indicating that she and Timmothy were fine, and he was heard in the background of the call. He was not seen again until, possibly, he came forward in Kentucky.
Later that night, Amy was seen alone at a dollar store and then checking into a hotel in Rockford, where she committed suicide. According to the Charley Project, she left behind suicide notes and mailed letters that indicated “Timmothy was fine and with people who cared about him, but she didn’t name those people.” Another note said “no one would ever find him,” Charley Project reports.
2. Timmothy’s Father Recalled the Last ‘I Love You’ His Son Said Before Disappearing
Timmothy’s dad’s name is James Pitzen. He has a Facebook page filled with photos of his son. His page says he now lives in Clinton, Iowa.
In fact, the only photos visible on his page are those of Timmothy, including age-progression pictures.
In 2017, the dad spoke to MyStateLine. He recalled the last time he saw his son in 2011, saying, “He hops out of the back of the Jeep and runs off to school and I said, ‘See ya later buddy!’ He goes, ‘Love you dad,’ and ‘I go love you, too.'”
The father said at that time that he didn’t think Amy would harm her son, adding, “Timmothy was the apple of her eye. Timmothy made her a better mom. Timmothy was one person that she would never do anything to.”
The article said that James Pitzen adopted a dog named Bailey after his son vanished hoping one day dog and boy could meet. According to CNN, the parents met at a party, and Amy’s depression became apparent early on.
The network reports that, because her depression first emerged after a divorce in a first marriage, Jim thought their marriage might improve things for her. However, the couple was having marital problems over money and other issues when Amy committed suicide, CNN reports.
3. Timmothy’s Grandmother Was Hopeful the Boy Is Timmothy
The boy’s maternal grandmother, Alana Anderson, told CBS Chicago: “…we never stopped looking for him. We are thinking about him, and we love him, and we will do everything to get him back to a good life.”
Timmothy’s grandmother gave some cautious statements to Fox 19 when word of the boy’s discovery broke.
“Well I’m very hopeful that it is him and that he is OK and he’s been in a good place when he was gone,” she said to the television station.
She added that she was “very cautiously hopeful.” She told NBC Chicago: “We never forgot, never stopped thinking about him everyday, stayed in touch with the police. It just went cold and I just prayed that when he was old enough that he would remember us and contact us—that was kind of the best I could hope for for a long time.”
4. The Boy in Kentucky Was Found Wandering the Streets
The dramatic escape came in Newport, Kentucky, which is near Cincinnati, Ohio. A police report from the Sharonville, Ohio Police Department, dated April 3, 2019 at 11:14 a.m., stated that police received a dispatch from another law enforcement agency in Campbell County indicating that a 14-year-old male “named Timothy Pitzen, had just escaped from two kidnappers that have been holding him for 7 years.”
However, as noted, a DNA test has now shown otherwise.
The report continued, spelling Timmothy’s name with one M: “Timothy is originally from Illinois and was last known to be with his mother, who apparently had killed herself. A note was left stating that Timothy was with someone but was safe.”
The report indicated that Timmothy “described the two kidnappers as two male, whites, body-builder type build. One had black curly hair, Mt. Dew shirt and jeans & has a spider web tattoo on his neck. The other was short in stature and had a snake tattoo on his arms.”
The vehicle they were driving was described as a newer model Ford SUV, bearing unknown Wisconsin plates, with a 2nd row, white in color with yellow transfer paint, and a dent on the left back bumper. The report continues to say that “Timothy had escaped and kept running across a bridge into KY. They had been staying at a Red Roof Inn, but Timothy had no idea where. Campbell County dispatched (sic) had contacted all surrounding agencies with a Red Roof Inn in their jurisdiction. After checking our Red Roof Inn and surrounding motels, nothing was found.”
According to ABC7 Chicago, the boy was found “wandering the streets” and “approached a woman in a vehicle asking for help.”
“He looked like he had been beat up, punched in the face a couple of times,” a witness told ABC7. “You could see the fear on him and how nervous he was and how he kept pacing. He just looked odd.”
5. Timmothy’s Aunt Never Stopped Believing He Was Alive
Timmothy Pitzen’s aunt is named Karen Jacobs. She’s long believed her nephew was still alive.
She told NBC 5: “Regardless of what anybody said I knew he was alive.”
To the television station she added: “We’ve always felt strongly this day would come. When it comes, it’s hard to realize what’s happening when it does come, and we are still waiting to see if it is actually Timmothy.”
She added: “We hope it’s true. What is hard is the story that he escaped from captors and your mind goes in too many directions that you don’t want to think about.”