Why did he pretend to be a missing boy? Suspect told officials he ‘wished he had a father like Timmothy’s’

FBI officials tried to explain Friday why a 23-year-old man from northern Ohio repeatedly lied about being a 14-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted for eight years after he was abducted in 2011 in Illinois.

Brian Michael Rini, 23, formerly from Medina, was charged federally Friday morning with making false statements to federal agents, the FBI announced during a news conference. If convicted, Rini faces up to eight years in federal prison, according to an U.S. District Court affidavit.

Rini appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz on Friday morning and is being held without bond. He is scheduled for a detention hearing Tuesday, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman.

Robert Brown, special agent in charge of the Louisville FBI, stressed that false reports of found children are “extremely traumatic” to the families of those missing children, and those claims take resources away from other investigations.

“Lying to the FBI has consequences,” he said.

Glassman said Rini, who said he was Timmothy Pitzen, learned of the missing child case after watching a 20/20 episode of the boy who was reportedly abducted on May 11, 2011. After Timmothy’s mother, 43-year-old Amy Fry-Pitzen, committed suicide, the 6-year-old, his car booster seat and backpack were gone.

Police in Aurora, Ill., found blood in her SUV, and that sample was saved in a national database. Family members thought the blood might have been from a bloody nose a year before.

That 20/20 episode was repeated a few weeks ago, about the time Rini was released from prison in Ohio, Glassman said.

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Rini was found in Newport, Ky., Wednesday morning, and he told residents there and later FBI officials he was Timmothy. That started an three-state investigation that included more than 50 law enforcement officers and public health officials and gave Timmothy’s family in Aurora, Ill., hope he finally was located.

Acting Special Agent Cincinnati FBI Herb Stapleton said FBI agents were “skeptical” that Rini was Timmothy after he twice refused to provide his fingerprints to investigators at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. But, he said, the FBI had to “follow all leads.”

Glassman said because of Rini’s refusal and because he looked older than 14, the age of Timmothy today, “there were suspicions relatively quickly.”

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Person who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen is actually 23-year-old recently released from prison

Then on Thursday, Rini agreed to submit a swab of DNA that was matched against Timmothy’s parents, said Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco.

There was no match, she said, and officials confirmed Rini’s identity. Since he’s a convicted felon, the FBI had Rini’s DNA. Rini was released from Belmont Correctional Institution on March 7 after serving 18 months for burglary and vandalism, according to the Ohio Department of Corrections.

When the FBI told Rini his DNA proved he wasn’t Timmothy, he told them he made up the story because he “wished he had a father like Timmothy’s.”

This was at least the third time Rini allegedly portrayed himself as a juvenile sex trafficking victim, Glassman said. Those claims were made in northern Ohio where Rini lived, Glassman said. In those instances, he was correctly identified once he was fingerprinted.

Glassman said Rini continued to lie to agents about his true identity, even after he was told it was a federal offense.

While waiting on those DNA results, the FBI and local law enforcement in multiple states initiated a sex trafficking investigation. Rini, while claiming to be Pitzen, relayed detailed information to the FBI about how he had been abducted, suffered physical and sexual abuse, and had just recently escaped from two men in Cincinnati.

Anyone with “genuine information” about Timmothy’s case is asked to call the Aurora Police Department at 630-256-5000 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.

A wild three days

May 11, 2011: Timmothy Pitzen's mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, commits suicide and he's allegedly kidnapped in Aurora, Ill.

Wednesday morning: A person claiming to be Timmothy Pitzen is found wandering a neighborhood in Newport, Ky. Residents call police and the investigation begins.

Wednesday afternoon: The person says his abdomen hurts so he's taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital emergency room for medical treatment. While there, he says he's Timmothy and he refuses to be fingerprinted when questioned by FBI agents. Later, during another interview with the FBI, he refuses fingerprints.

Wednesday: He allows the FBI to collect DNA and that sample is sent to the Hamilton County Coroner's Office. The sample is analyzed and compared against Timmothy's parents.

Thursday afternoon: The FBI in Louisville announces the person claiming to be Timmothy is Brian Rini, 23, formerly of Medina. Rini recently was released from prison after serving 18 months for burglary and vandalism.

Friday morning: Rini appears in U.S. District Court and U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz holds him without bond. He's charged with making false statements to federal agents. If convicted, Rini faces up to eight years in federal prison, according to an U.S. District Court affidavit.

Tuesday: Rini expected to have his detention hearing.

SOURCE: U.S. District Court affidavit

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