SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Heartbreak all over again for Timmothy Pitzen's family

A teenager who was found wandering in a Kentucky neighborhood is not Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared nearly eight years ago, the FBI said.

Posted: Apr 5, 2019 6:30 AM
Updated: Apr 5, 2019 6:30 AM

Timmothy Pitzen's family believed their 8-year-long search for him was over when a man claiming to be the missing boy was found roaming a Kentucky neighborhood.

But that hope didn't last long.

DNA results revealed that the person who told authorities on Wednesday he was the missing boy from Aurora, Illinois, was not Timmothy, the FBI said Thursday. Police in Newport, Kentucky, identified that man as 23-year-old Brian Michael Rini of Medina, Ohio.

The news brought heartbreak all over again to Timmothy's family and neighbors who were waiting for his return.

"It's devastating. It's like reliving that day all over again," Kara Jacobs, Timmothy's aunt, told reporters. "Timmothy's father is devastated once again."

'I feel empty right now'

Yamii Grande, a neighbor a few years older than Timmothy, said her family kept his black Mongoose bike with orange wheels in their basement.

She recalled him telling her she was his "big sister." His "future girlfriend," too.

"I feel empty right now. I feel like there's a part of me missing still, and I haven't found it," Grande, now 18, said in an interview with CNN.

"We really thought he was going to be back into our arms, and for him not to be back into our arms just hurts a little."

Pedro Melendez, who bought Timmothy's home six years ago from the boy's father, kept something for him, too.

Melendez cut out a block of cement with an impression of Timmothy's hand and footprint when he renovated the patio of his American Craftsman style home, according to CNN affiliate WLS. The impression was signed "Tim," and appears to have been made in 2009, the station reported.

"If he knows that it's there, he can come back and see it," said Melendez, who had preserved part of the backyard when he learned of the boy's disappearance.

On Wednesday, someone knocked on Melendez's door to tell them that Timmothy may have been found alive, WLS reported.

His wife almost fainted.

A unique case

In May 2011, Amy Fry-Pitzen checked her then 6-year-old son out of his elementary school. They went on a road trip, stopping at a zoo and a water park. Three days later, her body was found in a hotel room in Rockford, Illinois, about 73 miles northwest of Aurora.

She had died by suicide, leaving behind a note that said her son was with people who love him.

"You'll never find him," the note said.

The image of Timmothy running off to class after he dropped his son off at school for the last time has haunted Jim Pitzen. "That's pretty much the last image I have in my mind of him," he told CNN in 2015.

Timmothy was last seen at a water park in Wisconsin in 2011, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Angeline Hartmann, a spokeswoman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said the case is unique.

"We've had cases where children think they may be a missing child. They call in and it doesn't pan out,"she said. "We haven't had one with intentional deception."

Sharon Hall, who had spotted Rini in her Newport neighborhood near the Ohio-Kentucky border, said she was devastated to learn Timmothy was still missing.

"I really in my heart thought it was him," she said.

The investigation into Timmothy's disappearance is now again a missing youth investigation, said Sgt. Bill Rowley, a spokesman for Aurora police.

"We hope our tragedy will help to shed some light on the horrific problems of suicide and missing children in our country," Timmothy's aunt, Kara Jacobs, told reporters.

Holding out hope

Alana Anderson, who stood with Jacobs, said she and her grandson were close. He declared she was "the best grandma in the whole wide world," when he crawled into her bed during one of their last times together.

Jacobs embraced Anderson as she talked about her hopes for her grandson's return.

"My prayer has always been that when he was old enough, he would find us if we couldn't find him," she said.

Anderson hoped that Timmothy was living with a loving family, she said. "As happy as he can be, and that whoever has him, is taking good care of him," Anderson said.

"All we can do is hope," Jacobs said.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 22°
Robinson
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 23°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 22°
Paris
Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 21°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 22°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 22°
Snow/Freezing Rain Early
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1101819

Reported Deaths: 20680
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4449279243
DuPage708901168
Will59768888
Lake54700921
Kane47171705
Winnebago26766415
Madison25299477
St. Clair22976450
McHenry22214258
Champaign15867106
Peoria15466251
Sangamon14918242
McLean13564171
Tazewell12296251
Rock Island12195308
Kankakee11720187
Kendall1001681
LaSalle9791250
Macon8982182
Vermilion7784117
DeKalb767894
Adams7537129
Williamson6358119
Boone565679
Whiteside5438175
Clinton517486
Coles479085
Knox4706147
Ogle470072
Grundy453154
Effingham437372
Jackson430270
Henry410277
Marion4081113
Macoupin400996
Franklin393771
Randolph380273
Livingston379270
Monroe367371
Stephenson363977
Jefferson3557105
Woodford334470
Morgan332193
Logan316959
Montgomery315954
Lee314276
Bureau305685
Christian305678
Fayette296753
Perry279262
Fulton262549
Iroquois262458
Jersey230161
Lawrence220730
McDonough219351
Saline208754
Douglas204534
Union203632
Shelby202235
Crawford183135
Cass179431
Bond178224
Warren160344
Pike160048
Richland157146
Hancock155035
Wayne154743
Clark152934
Jo Daviess152325
Washington149326
Edgar149253
Carroll146833
Moultrie141528
Ford140651
White140232
Clay134040
Greene128243
Johnson125615
Wabash121815
Mason119541
Piatt119518
De Witt119028
Mercer118730
Cumberland111727
Massac107233
Jasper106115
Menard91610
Hamilton73117
Marshall70515
Schuyler64617
Pulaski6253
Brown62211
Stark49920
Edwards4789
Henderson46616
Calhoun4504
Scott4081
Alexander4047
Gallatin3974
Putnam3572
Hardin3128
Pope2573
Unassigned1040
Out of IL320

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
Wabash304551
Adams302136
Ripley300046
Putnam297850
Huntington293159
Jasper290534
White274143
Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
Decatur248983
Fayette247848
Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
LaGrange229662
Scott225739
Clay223532
Randolph214948
Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
Fountain184627
Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
Fulton164230
Orange160835
Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
Vermillion149334
Franklin149033
Tipton133033
Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
Benton86910
Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
Unassigned0376