Newport, KY – A 23-year old felon who claimed he was the missing Illinois child Timmothy Pitzen has been arrested by federal authorities for filing a false report.
U.S. Marshals took Brian Michael Rini into custody and booked him into the Hamilton County jail at about 11 p.m. on Thursday night, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Jail officials said that Rini was being held for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Rini, of Media, Ohio, was released from prison just one month before he perpetrated the missing child hoax, the New York Daily News reported.
His criminal record included convictions for burglary and vandalism, plus an arrest for making false alarms involving police in 2015, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records.
U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the recent parolee could face up to eight years in prison for the hoax that sucked up hundreds of hours in law enforcement resources and gave false hope to Timmothy’s devastated family.
Rini showed up just across the Kentucky border on April 3 claiming to be the now-14-year-old boy who had been missing for almost eight years, WBBM reported.
Timmothy, then age 6, was taken from his Aurora, Illinois kindergarten class by his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, on May 11, 2011, CNN reported.
Investigators later determined that 43-year-old Amy had taken Timmothy to the Brookfield Zoo that afternoon while she had her car worked on, and then they drove to Gurnee, Illinois and spent the night at the KeyLime Cove Resort.
The next night was spent at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and May 13, 2011 was the last time the little boy was seen with his mother on the resort’s surveillance footage, WLS reported.
Three days after Amy took Timmothy from school, she was found dead from suicide in a motel room in Rockford, Illinois, according to CNN.
She had ingested a fatal amount of antihistamines and slashed her wrists, according to The Washington Post.
The mother left a suicide note that was found by the maid.
It said, in part, “I’ve taken him somewhere safe. He will be well cared for and he says that he loves you. Please know that there is nothing you could have said or done that would have changed my mind.”
Timmothy, whose father said knew his name and address and how to call 911 for help, hasn’t been seen since.
On April 3, Rini showed up in Newport, Kentucky asking for help on a residential street.
He told the woman who stopped to help him that his name was Timmothy Pitzen and that he had just escaped his kidnappers, The Washington Post reported.
Crekasafra Night told WCPO she saw the skinny boy with bruises on his face pacing nervously up and down her street.
"He walked up to my car and he went, 'Can you help me?'" Night told dispatchers when she called 911. "'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."
She waited with Rini until officers arrived.
"He looked like he had been beat up, punched in the face a couple of times," a neighbor told WLS. "You could see the fear on him and how nervous he was and how he kept pacing. He just looked odd."
Rini told police he had escaped from a Red Roof Inn in Ohio and run over the bridge connecting Ohio to Kentucky, The Washington Post reported.
Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) worked together to determine his true identity.
He was initially taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for treatment and a DNA test.
Newport Police Chief Tom Collins said they had not established a motive for Rini’s hoax, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Rini told police he learned of Timmothy’s case by watching “20/20.”
“False reports like this can be painful to the families of missing children and also divert law enforcement resources in order to investigate these untruthful claims," FBI Cincinnati Acting Special Agent Herb Stapleton said in a statement, according to the New York Daily News. “Law enforcement takes dishonest reports very seriously, and we caution that people making false claims can and will face criminal penalties.”