In Brief

Timmothy Pitzen: man who claimed to be missing boy revealed as imposter

DNA testing shows ‘teenager’ is actually 23-year-old convicted criminal Brian Rini

US officials say a man who came forward this week claiming to be a boy who vanished eight years ago is actually a 23-year-old imposter.

On Wednesday, an individual contacted police in Newport, Kentucky - around 500 miles from where Timmothy Pitzen was last seen in May 2011, when he was six - and identified himself as the missing boy.

The supposed teenager told officers that he had escaped from two men holding him in a motel in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then fled into Kentucky over the Ohio River, which divides the two states.

The claim attracted instant media attention, although both police officers and Pitzen’s relatives urged caution while officers investigated the story.

Now, a DNA test has revealed that the person claiming to be Pitzen, who would be 14, is in fact a man called Brian Rini, from Cleveland, Ohio.

Little is known about Rini or his motivation for claiming to be Pitzen, but “police in Kentucky have said he has been arrested in the past”, CNN reports.

Ohio state records show that an inmate of that name was released from prison on 7 March, after serving just under 14 months of an 18-month sentence for burglary and vandalism.

Pitzen’s aunt, Kara Jacobs, told CBS that the hoax was “devastating” for the missing boy’s family.

However, she added: “We hope our tragedy will help to shed some light on the horrific problems of suicide and missing children in our country.”

Who is Timmothy Pitzen?

Timmothy Pitzen was six years old in May 2011, when his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, unexpectedly took him out of his elementary school in Aurora, Illinois, citing a family emergency.

The pair were last seen on CCTV visiting a zoo and a water park. Fry-Pitzen was found dead by suicide two days later in a motel room in nearby Rockford, along with a note “in which she said her son was fine but no one would ever find him”, according to the Daily Mail.

Fry-Pitzen had struggled with depression and feared “a judge would take her son away because of her mental health issues”, relatives told CNN.

In a separate letter mailed to her mother, Fry-Pitzen said of Timmothy: “I’ve taken him somewhere safe. He will be well cared for and he says that he loves you. Please know that there is nothing you could have said or done that would have changed my mind.”

The boy has never been found, although Aurora Police Sergeant Bill Rowley said the force had received “thousands of tips” over the years.

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