FBI rejects teen’s claim to be long-missing boy
CINCINNATI – A young man's claim to be an Illinois boy who disappeared under tragic circumstances eight years ago was disproved by DNA tests and pronounced a hoax Thursday, dashing hopes that the baffling case had finally been solved.
For a day and a half, a breakthrough seemed to be at hand when a young man found wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky, on Wednesday identified himself as 14-year-old Timmothy Pitzen and told police he had just escaped from two men who had held him captive for seven years.
Timmothy disappeared in 2011 at age 6, apparently sent into hiding by his mother just before she took her own life. Timmothy's family was cautiously hopeful over Wednesday's news, as were neighbors and others who have long wondered whether he is dead or alive.
But the FBI said Thursday afternoon that DNA tests determined the young man was not Timmothy.
Newport Police Chief Tom Collins identified him to ABC as Brian Rini of Medina, Ohio, a 23-year-old ex-convict. He was released from an Ohio prison less than a month ago after serving more than a year for burglary and vandalism.
Authorities did not say whether Rini would face charges over the alleged hoax or what his motive was.
"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.
In Timmothy's hometown of Aurora, Illinois, police Sgt. Bill Rowley said that over the years his department has received thousands of tips about Timmothy, including false sightings.
"We're always worried about copycats, especially something that has a big national attention like this," he said.
Timmothy's family members said they were heartbroken at the latest twist.
"It's devastating. It's like reliving that day all over again, and Timmothy's father is devastated once again," said his aunt Kara Jacobs.