US man charged over missing child hoax | News | DW | 05.04.2019
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US man charged over missing child hoax

The family of Timmothy Pitzen spoke of their bitter disappointment after an ex-convict claimed to be their lost relative. Pitzen vanished in 2011 shortly before his mother's suicide.

A family in the US state of Illinois spoke of their devastation on Friday, after they discovered that a man claiming to be a boy who vanished in 2011 was actually committing a hoax. Ex-convict Brian Rini, 23, had pretended to be Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared at the age of 6.

"It's like reliving that day all over again, and Timmothy's father is devastated once again, as are we," said the missing boy's aunt, Kara Jacobs, visibly upset, alongside grandmother Alana Anderson.

Earlier this week, a man was found wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky. He said his name was Timmothy Pitzen and that he had escaped from two men who had kept him captive for seven years.

Pitzen's family was elated at the news, but a DNA test carried out by the FBI identified the man as Brian Rini, a man several years older than Pitzen who was released last month from an Ohio prison after serving time for burglary and vandalism.

Later on Friday, the FBI confirmed that Rini has been charged with lying to federal agents and is being held without bail until his detention hearing on Tuesday. He faces up to eight years in prison. Authorities say that he has made similar claims twice before. They stressed the detrimental effect such false statements have on the families of victims.

Boy disappears before mother's suicide

Timmothy Pitzen was last seen with his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, on May 11, 2011, when she pulled him out of his school in Aurora, Illinois, in the middle of the day, citing a family emergency.

The pair were seen on CCTV at several Chicago-area theme parks and resorts before his mother checked into a motel room alone two days later.

Her body was found on May 14, 120 miles away in Rockford, Illinois. There was no sign of Timmothy, but she did leave a suicide note saying he was being cared for by someone who loved him, but in a place where he would never be found.

Years later, police still cannot explain Fry-Pitzen's actions, though neighbors and friends told the authorities that she had seemed very sad and out of sorts. Alana Anderson has since said that her daughter had battled severe depression for years and that she and her husband were having problems at the time.

"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 spokesman Timothy Beam said in a statement Thursday.

es/msh (AP, AFP)

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