FBI says that the person claiming to be missing teen Timmothy Pitzen is not him
The FBI announced today that DNA testing confirms that the teen found in Kentucky on Wednesday who claimed to be a missing child is not him.
The teen reportedly told authorities that he was Timmothy Pitzen, who was last seen when he was 6 years old and his mother took him out of school early in 2011, days before dying by suicide.
FBI Louisville, FBI Cincinnati, Aurora Police Department, Newport Police Department, Cincinnati Police Department and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office have been working together on confirming the individual’s identity and they announced Thursday that the DNA results indicate that the teen is not Timmothy Pitzen.
“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,” said FBI Louisville Supervisory Special Agent Timothy Beam in a statement.
According to the chief of police of Newport, Kentucky, the individual has been identified as Brian Michael Rini, who is a 23-year-old from Ohio.
On Wednesday, what was then-thought to be a teenager allegedly told police that he was Timmothy Pitzen, who had been been reported missing in 2011, when he was last seen being checked out of his Aurora, Illinois, school by his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen.
Timmothy was 6-years-old at the time, and the search for him and his mother spanned the region before she was found dead by suicide in a motel room in Rockford, Illinois.
On Thursday, in the wake of the DNA test results, Pitzen’s maternal grandmother spoke about the devastation that their family is feeling.
“It’s been awful. We’ve been on tinderhooks,” Abramson said to reporters, adding that the family has been “alternatively hopeful and frightened.”
When asked about the person who claimed to be Timmothy, Abramson said that she thinks the man “obviously had a horrible time and felt the need to say he was someone else, and [I] hope that they can find his family.”
They are not giving up hope that their real relative is found.
“My prayer has always been that when he is old enough, he would find us if we couldn’t find him,” Abramson said.
The case has been of national interest for years as relatives held out hope he was still alive. And they had reason to believe he may still be alive: his mother left notes saying Timmothy was safe but would never be found.
Days after his disappearance, Timmothy’s father, Jim Pitzen, told ABC News he was convinced his son was still alive.
“He’s out there somewhere, and I know he’s OK. I just want him to come home to his family,” Pitzen said.
Jim Pitzen later spoke to Crime Watch Daily in 2017, where he talked about the last time he said he saw his son.
“I said ‘I love you buddy,’ and he said ‘I love you too, Dad, and I’ll see you later,’ and I’m like ‘OK,’ and I watched him run off to class,” Pitzen told the channel about the last morning he dropped his son off at school.
The elder Pitzen said he returned to the school that afternoon, only to find the boy’s mother had picked him up about an hour after he was dropped off, allegedly citing a family emergency.
Pitzen said he called relatives — including his in-laws — before deciding to wait.
“I was like, ‘OK, she’s upset at me for some reason so she’ll need to cool down.’ So the next morning comes around and they’re still not home so I call the police department and report Amy and Timmothy missing,” he told Crime Watch Daily.
Jim Pitzen said Amy Pitzen called his brother, which seemed odd to him. His brother told him he could hear Timmothy “in the background playing or hanging out,” Pitzen said.
Pitzen told Crime Watch Daily his brother also noted that Amy Pitzen said, “‘Timmothy is fine. Timmothy belongs to me. Timmothy and I will be fine. Timmothy is safe.'”
Pitzen said he heard from police three days later that Amy Pitzen was found dead in a motel room without Timmothy, but with a suicide note.
John Bischoff, an executive director at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told ABC News that while every case is unique, there are a number of cases where children are found years after disappearing.
The center has been involved in 50,000 to 60,000 cases in the past five years, and over 3,000 of those saw children recovered after being missing for six months or longer, he said.
“In that same time-frame, we’ve had over 150 cases where the children were recovered after being missing for more than a decade,” Bischoff said.
Bischoff said that while a possible discovery is a windfall for the family, it can also be “an emotional roller coaster” for other parents whose children are missing.
“I say it’s a double-edged sword because yes they’re excited … but there’s always some form of self-reflection where they say, ‘Where’s my child?’ So it’s a difficult road for all searching parents out there,” he said.
But a discovery can have positive ripple effects.
“Any public engagement in any of these cases will drive additional tips and leads on cases across the board,” he said. “Someone out there knows something, so it’s just a matter of getting the right person to view the right image at the right time.”
ABC News’ Katie Conway contributed to this report.