A child disappearing is every parent’s worst fear, and when it happens, it usually doesn’t end in good news. Every year there are hundreds of children who seemingly vanish all around the world, many who are never heard from again. However, in the strange case of Timmothy Pitzen, everything investigators thought they knew about missing children’s cases was thrown out of the window when they discovered something they never thought they’d see.
Timmothy Pitzen was a happy-go-lucky six-year-old boy who was the light of his family’s life. in the early morning hours of May 11th, 2011 Timmothy’s father, James Pitzen dropped him off at school just like he would any other normal day. However, only an hour later his mother, Amy-Fry Pitzen, checked him out of school citing a family emergency that was later deemed untrue.
Now here is where things get strange–and it’s only the beginning.
The First Stop
The pair was off to what would become an odd road trip ending in tragedy. They dropped the family car off at a local repair shop at 10:00 am where an employee kindly dropped them off at the Brookfield Zoo. The pair then returned for the car around 3:00 pm, heading to their next destination of KeyLime Cove Resort in Gurnee, Illinois.
Spending only one night in Gurnee, Illinois, the mother and son duo headed to Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, for unknown reasons. They were spotted on nearby security cameras seemingly calm and under no duress. By this time other family members were beginning to worry about the safety of both parties until Amy phoned them reassuring them everyone was safe.
However, the unplanned trip had everyone on high alert, as it was unusual behavior that left everyone feeling uneasy, and for good reason.
Left In The Dark
No one was more worried than Timmothy’s father James who had been desperately trying to locate his wife and child since he received a call from his son’s school notifying him of his absence. His wife, although reassuring other family members, failed to contact James during the entire trip. When Amy did contact family, Timmothy was heard in the background complaining that he was hungry, urging the family to question Amy’s state of mind.
Later that same night, Amy was spotted on camera at a Winnebego dollar store, but not with her son. She was alone, making the previous phone call the last time Timmothy was proven to be alive. Oddly, what she purchased at the dollar store would foreshadow devastating events to come and spark a nationwide hunt for the missing 6-year-old.
Where is Timmothy?
Amy purchases paper, a pen, and envelopes, which initially caused confusion until later when police made a disturbing discovery. At 8:00 pm she was seen at Sullivan’s Food Store, but again she was alone. Investigators had a hunch that things were about to get a lot worse for the Pitzen family, but little did they know this case would be full of surprises.
A Menacing Note
A few hours later at 11:00 pm Amy checked in the Rockford Inn at Rockford, where sometime that night she ended her own life. Leaving behind a suicide note, Amy stated that Timmothy would never be found but that he was in safe hands. Her body was discovered by a hotel maid and police were on the scene shortly.
The desperate search for little Timmothy was kicked into high gear, but sadly, his mother’s suicide wasn’t the only shocking turn of events.
Investigators located her car at a nearby stream and highway and began a thorough search for any clues to Timmothy’s whereabouts. Although all the blood in the hotel room belonged to her, the surprising amount found in her car belonged to young Timmothy. Enough blood to suggest that the little one was injured and in trouble.
They also searched high and low for her cell-phone to try and turn up any new clues but didn’t locate it until 2013 off of Route 78. When they finally located the phone no new evidence surfaced. At what felt like a dead end, investigators refused to give up and asked the public for help.
As news spread across the nation of the unfortunate disappearance of little Timmothy shows like LivePD aired the case alongside any details of the child in hopes that someone, somewhere would come forward with news of where to find him. James, Timmothy’s father, still believes his son is alive.
Although no new leads surfaced into the whereabouts of young Timmothy, something else happened that would leave many people scratching their heads.
On April 3rd, 2019 reports of a teenager wandering the streets of Newport Kentucky claiming to be Timothy hit local officers. The 911 caller stated, “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.”
Excitement filled the air as they thought this might turn out to be a happy time for the Pitzen family, but when they took the teenager into custody things got weird.
Something Isn’t Right
The family was cautious to celebrate until the boy could be positively identified as their Timmothy, and it’s a good thing they did. Red flags started to rise as the young man was questioned. Although the young man swore up and down that he was the missing child, something just didn’t seem right.
First, they realized that the “teen” was actually a lot older than Timmothy would have been. Rather than being a 14-year-old boy, the man was actually 23. To get to the bottom of his identity, police performed a DNA test.
When the results came in they realized that he was in fact, not Timmothy. The man was actually Brian Rini, a criminal who had just been released from prison a month prior. He was known around his local community for being a thief and vandal, far from the young innocent Timmothy.
One major question still remained: why would he pretend to be Timmothy?
Trying to determine if Rini had anything to do with Timmothy’s disappearance was their first priority, as they didn’t see any benefit of Rini lying about his identity. They determined he had no connection with the case, but couldn’t figure out why he lied.
Timmothy’s family has been through hell and back waiting for Timmothy’s return and have had many false alarms during the process, according to his grandmother. This one, however, has to be the hardest and strangest to deal with.
From The Family
“It’s been awful,” Alana Anderson, Timmothy’s grandmother, told reporters. “We’ve been on tenterhooks. We’ve been alternately hopeful and frightened. It’s just been exhausting.”
Timmothy’s aunt also shared how it’s affected them, “It’s like reliving that day all over again,” she said. “And Timmothy’s father is devastated, once again.”
Committed To Justice
“Although we are disappointed that this turned out to be a hoax, we remain diligent in our search for Timmothy, as our missing person’s case remains unsolved,” police spokesperson Sgt. Bill Rowley said.