By the Associated Press
A man whom authorities say claimed to be an Illinois boy who disappeared eight years ago has twice made similar claims in which he falsely portrayed himself as a juvenile sex trafficking victim, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court on Friday.
The FBI declared the man’s story a hoax on Thursday evening, a day after he identified himself to authorities as Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared in 2011 aged six after his mother killed herself and left a mysterious note.
Brian Rini, 23, of Medina, Ohio, was behind bars in Cincinnati on Friday as the US attorney’s office was poised to release more details about the case.
On Friday morning he was charged with making false statements, after the authorities said he fraudulently claimed to be the missing boy.
The FBI identified Rini as the person who claimed to be the Timmothyen, after DNA testing.
Rini had been released from prison on probation less than a month ago after serving more than a year for burglary and vandalism.
The man was found on Wednesday wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky. He identified himself to authorities as Timmothy and said he had escaped from two men who held him captive for seven years.
After identifying himself as Timmothy, Rini complained of abdominal pain and was taken to the Cincinnati Children’s hospital emergency room, the affidavit said.
Rini refused to be fingerprinted on Wednesday or Thursday but agreed to a DNA test, which on Thursday identified him as Rini, according to the six-page affidavit by FBI agent Mary Braun.
Even after Rini was advised of his rights and warned against making false statements, he continued to insist he was Timmothy and that he had escaped from a hotel where he had been forced to have sex with men against his will, the affidavit said.
Rini finally acknowledged his identity after being confronted with the DNA results. He said he had watched a story about Timmothy on ABC’s 20/20 news program, and had wanted to get away from his family, according to Braun.
An FBI investigation found that Rini had twice portrayed himself as a juvenile sex trafficking victim, and in each case was later identified after being fingerprinted, the affidavit said.
Timmothy’s family had been cautious but hopeful following Wednesday’s news that the long-lost boy might have been found, as were neighbors and others who had frequently wondered whether he was dead or alive after he disappeared eight years ago.
But the FBI said on Thursday that DNA testing proved Rini’s story to be false, dashing hopes that the baffling disappearance of Timmothy had finally been solved.
Timmothy vanished after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, pulled him out of kindergarten early one day in the family’s hometown of Aurora, Illinois, and took him on a two-day road trip to the zoo and a water park, but then killed herself at a hotel. She left a note saying that her son was safe with people who would love and care for him, and added: “You will never find him.”
On Thursday an FBI spokesman, Timothy Beam, said: “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.”
Over the years, Aurora police have received thousands of tips about Timmothy, including false sightings, and the information never led anywhere.
“We’re always worried about copycats, especially something that has a big national attention like this,” said Sgt Bill Rowley of Aurora police.
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 the boy’s aunt, Kara Jacobs.
The boy’s grandmother, Alana Anderson, said: “It’s been awful. We’ve been on tenterhooks, hopeful and frightened. It’s just been exhausting.” She added: “I feel so sorry for the young man who’s obviously had a horrible time and felt the need to say he was somebody else.”