CINCINNATI, Ohio — Federal authorities on Friday charged the 23-year-old man who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, a 14-year-old boy who went missing from Illinois in 2011, with making false statements to a federal agent.
A criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Ohio shows Brian Michael Rini, 23, claimed to be Timmothy after he was found Wednesday in northern Kentucky. He claimed he had escaped from two kidnappers until he was confronted with DNA evidence that revealed his true identity, authorities said.
Timmothy was last seen in May 2011 when he was 6 years old.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 12:45 p.m. EDT April 5: At a news conference Friday morning, U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said Rini could face up to eight years in prison if he's found guilty of lying to a federal agent.
"(The charge is) punishable by up to eight years in federal prison because it does involve lying about a material matter that involves the sex trafficking of children," Glassman said.
In an affidavit filed Friday in court, authorities said Rini told officers he was Timmothy when he was found Wednesday. He claimed he had escaped from a pair of men who had sexually and physically abused him for years, officials said.
His identity was discovered after authorities tested DNA gathered after Rini submitted to a buccal swab, authorities said.
Rini made an initial appearance Friday morning in court. A judge ordered him held without bail.
"On behalf of the United States, my heart goes out to the family of Timmothy Pitzen," Glassman said. "I can only imagine the kind of pain that they have been through and that this episode has caused for them."
Update 11:35 a.m. EDT April 5: In an affidavit filed Friday in court, authorities said Rini claimed to have been Timmothy until he was confronted with DNA evidence that proved otherwise.
In an affidavit filed in court, authorities said Rini refused to give his fingerprints to investigators after he was found Wednesday in Newport, Kentucky, but that he agreed to submit to a buccal swab for DNA testing.
A test of the sample determined Rini could not be related to either of Timmothy's parents, officials said. In the affidavit, authorities said, "The sample matched a known felon, Brian Michael Rini."
Rini insisted that he was Timmothy and that he had been physically and sexually abused by two men for years, but he changed his story after authorities confronted him with the DNA evidence, officials said.
"He said he watched a story about Timmothy on ABC's 20/20," according to the affidavit. "He stated that he wanted to get away from his own family. When questioned further, Rini stated that he wished had a father like Timmothy's because if he went missing, his father would just keep drinking."
Update 11:10 a.m. EDT April 5: A 23-year-old man who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, a child missing from Illinois since 2011, has been booked into jail, according to online records.
Brian Rini, of Medina, is listed as an inmate in the Hamilton County Jail, records show.
The charges Rini will face remained unknown early Friday, according to WHIO-TV.
Authorities are expected to provide additional details on the case at a news conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. local time Friday.
Update 5:15 p.m. EST April 4: The FBI announced that a person found Wednesday in northern Kentucky is not Timmothy Pitzen, the child who disappeared from Illinois in 2011.
"FBILouisville, @FBICincinnati, @AuroraPoliceIL, Newport PD, @CincyPD, and HCSO have been conducting a missing person investigation. DNA results have been returned indicating the person in question is not Timmothy Pitzen," FBI Louisville tweeted.
WRSP-TV tweeted that according to Newport, Illinois police, the boy is actually a 23-year-old man named Brian Michael Rini. He's from Medina, Ohio, just south of Cleveland.
Further details remain unclear.
Update 3:45 a.m. EDT April 4: A Newport, Kentucky, woman told WCPO-TV in Cincinnati that she saw the boy pacing near West Eighth and Columbia streets about 8 a.m. Wednesday. The woman, Crekasafra Night, said the boy's actions made her nervous.
A caller to 911 told a dispatcher, "He walked up to my car and he went, 'Can you help me?' 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," the caller said.
Update 5:25 p.m. EDT April 3: Detectives from Aurora, Illinois, are traveling to suburban Cincinnati to investigate a report that a boy found wandering in Newport, Kentucky, is claiming to be Timmothy Pitzen, who has been missing for nearly eight years.
Several residents in Newport said they saw the boy walking around near West Eighth and Columbia Street about 8 a.m. Wednesday, WCPO reported.
The residents said they saw bruising hidden by the boy’s hoodie and said he appeared scared. They called police. Newport Police Chief Tom Collins said officers responded and the boy is at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
The child told Sharonville and Blue Ash police two white males, with body-builder type builds, had been holding him hostage at a Red Roof Inn in the area, but he couldn’t tell police where.
He described the men, saying one had black curly hair and was wearing a Mountain Dew shirt and jeans and had a spider web tattoo on his neck. 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.
He said he escaped, kept running and crossed a bridge into Kentucky.
There are no Red Roof Inns near any of the bridges connecting Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Authorities in Campbell County, Kentucky, alerted surrounding agencies that have Red Roof Inns in their jurisdictions about the incident.
According to Aurora, Illinois, police, Timmothy Pitzen was 6 years old when he went missing in 2011.
The FBI, which is assisting Cincinnati area law enforcement in trying to verify the boy’s information, has not been able to confirm any of it.
Aurora police said they are being very cautious about the reports that the boy said he is Timmothy Pitzen, as there were several false sightings in 2011, WBBM-TV reported. Investigators have received several tips in the intervening years, but have found no sign of the boy.
Law enforcement said they are working to positively identify the teen and are conducting a DNA test.
WBBM is also reporting that Pitzen was last seen with his mother, 43-year-old Amy Fry-Pitzen, the morning of May 13, 2011, when they checked out of the Kalahari Resort at the Wisconsin Dells. Timmothy's father had reported them missing the day before.
The two apparently visited Brookfield Zoo two days earlier and checked into the Key Lime Cove Resort in Gurnee on May 11, 2011. No one heard from either of them until Friday afternoon, when Fry-Pitzen called friends and family and told them she and the child were fine and not in danger.
Police said the boy also talked to at least one relative at the time and did not seem to be in distress.
Fry-Pitzen checked into the Rockford Inn on May 13, 2011, but Timmothy Pitzen apparently was not with her. Her body was found in her motel room the next day.
She left a note indicating the child was fine and that she had left him in the care of unnamed people.
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