AURORA, Ill. – The man who falsely claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, a boy who disappeared in 2011, was released from an Ohio prison last month after serving time for burglary and vandalism, court records show.
Brian Michael Rini, 23, of Medina, Ohio, said Wednesday he was the missing boy from Aurora, Illinois, and described how he fled from his alleged kidnappers and ran across a bridge into Kentucky, authorities said.
There, residents who found him roaming a Newport neighborhood called 911. About 24 hours later, DNA tests showed he is not the boy who vanished at age 6, the FBI said Thursday.
Records from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction show he was charged with burglary and vandalism — both felonies. The crimes occurred in Medina County in January last year, and he was sentenced to one year and six months in prison.
He was released March 7 and was supposed to start parole supervision that day for three years.
The stunning revelation of Rini’s deception dashed relatives’ hopes for the end of a long and desperate search for Timmothy, who would be 14.
“It’s like reliving that day all over again,” said Kara Jacobs, Timmothy’s aunt. “Timmothy’s father is devastated once again.”
Missing since 2011
Nearly 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 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.
A ‘fidgety’ man and sympathetic neighbors
Sharon Hall told CNN she noticed a “fidgety” person in her Newport neighborhood on Wednesday, not far from the Ohio-Kentucky border. A neighbor’s daughter called police after the individual told them he had run for two hours and that his stomach hurt.
When authorities arrived, he told them his name was Timmothy Pitzen and said he fled from two men who kept him captive for seven years, most recently at a nearby Red Roof Inn, according to a police report.
He said he just wanted to get home
People who talked to Rini 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 the affiliate. “‘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.”
Police checked Red Roof Inns in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky areas but did not find any clues.
His brother, Jonathon Rini, said Brian Rini was arrested after he broke into a model home and threw a party a few years ago.
Jonathon Rini used profanity when describing his brother to CNN and said Brian Rini used his name in 2017 when stopped by police for a traffic violation. Jonathon Rini found out when he received a letter notifying him his license had been suspended, according to a police report from the Ohio town of Norton.
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 Timmothy was safe.
Over the years, family members have said Timmothy’s 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.