A DNA test proved that a person who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, a teenager missing for nearly eight years from Illinois, was not him.
Not only is that person not Pitzen, but he’s not a teenager. He was identified by Newport, Ky., police as 23-year-old Brian Rini Medina, Ohio, man recently released from prison, our media partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.
Rini was released March 7 from the Belmont Correctional Institution after serving just more than a year for a burglary and vandalism conviction, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Local police agencies and the FBI are working to determine whether a boy found wandering around Newport, Ky., on Wednesday morning is the boy reported missing eight years ago in Illinois.
The boy was spotted near West Eighth and Columbia streets.
"He walked up to my car and he went, 'Can you help me?'" a 911 caller told dispatchers, according to our news partner WCPO-TV. "'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."
When police arrived, the boy said he was Timmothy Pitzen and he was 14, the same boy who vanished in 2011 from Aurora, Ill., following his mother’s suicide. DNA tests will take about 24 hours, according to Aurora police.
He told police he had escaped on foot from a pair of men who held him against his will for nearly eight years, most recently inside a Red Roof Inn, though he didn’t remember the motel’s location, WCPO reported.
After he escaped, he ran, crossing a bridge until he reached Newport.
The FBI is working with Newport police, Cincinnati police, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and Aurora police on a missing child investigation.
Newport Police Chief Tom Collins said officers responded and the boy is receiving medical care, WCPO reported.
Who are alleged kidnappers?
The boy described the kidnappers as two white males with “bodybuilder-type” builds, according to a 911 call. One had black curly hair and a spiderweb tattoo on his neck; he wore a Mountain Dew shirt and jeans. The other was short with a snake tattoo on his arms. They were driving a white newer-model Ford SUV with yellow transfer paint, Wisconsin plates and a dent on the left back bumper.
Numerous police agencies, including Sharonville, have checked Red Roof Inns in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area and none of the workers said they recall anyone who matched the description.
“It’s hard to remember people, to be honest, because of so many people coming in and out,” Kennedy Slusher, a worker at the Red Roof Inn Beechmont, told WCPO. “But to hear something like that, it’s kind of mind-blowing. It’s scary.”
How Timmothy came up missing
He was last seen with his mother, 43-year-old Amy Fry-Pitzen, on May 11, 2011. She’d checked him out of his kindergarten class and driven him to a zoo and water parks before the boy seemingly disappeared after they checked out of a Wisconsin Dells resort.
His mother was found dead by apparent suicide in a Rockford, Ill., hotel room. Police told ABC News at the time she’d left a note stating that she left Timmothy with people who “would care for him and love him” but didn’t name them. The note promised they would never be found.
When her body was found, Timmothy, his car booster seat and backpack were gone.
Angeline Hartmann, director of digital and broadcast media for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said she was aware of the reports about Timmothy, but said his disappearance remains “an active NCMEC case.”
Alana Anderson, Timmothy’s maternal grandmother, told ABC News she has been in touch with Aurora police and is expecting them to call her again as soon as they have determined whether the boy is Timmothy.
“(I’m) cautiously hopeful, very cautiously hopeful,” Anderson told ABC News. “And if it turns out to be him, we’ll be thrilled.”