Sunday, January 26, 2020

Man Who Falsely Claimed To Be Long-Missing Boy Charged

Washington Post:– The 23-year-old man who falsely claimed to be long-missing Illinois teen Timmothy Pitzen has been charged with lying to a federal agent, officials said Friday.

Brian Michael Rini, who had recently been released from prison in Ohio, gave multiple false details to authorities about his identity and alleged abduction, including that he had been physically and sexually abused, according to an affidavit filed Friday in federal court in Ohio. Rini had been found on a street corner in Newport, Ky., this week and told authorities he was Timmothy Pitzen, a child missing since 2011.

A DNA test proved otherwise, a stunning turn of events.

Rini had made a claim in a high-profile case that had attracted media attention from across the county. Even some members of Timmothy’s family told reporters they were cautiously optimistic about the news before Rini was formally identified.

It was not the first time Rini tried to perpetrate a fraud about his identity, said Benjamin Glassman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. On two prior occasions, he said, Rini claimed to be the victim of child sex trafficking. In both cases, the truth was revealed only through fingerprint testing.

Kara Jacobs, the missing boy’s aunt, called the news “devastating.”

“It’s like reliving that day all over again,” she told reporters on Thursday at a news conference.

National attention has been fixed on the Pitzen case since Wednesday, when police in Newport revealed that a young man found in the streets claimed he was the Aurora, Ill., boy who had vanished after his mother’s apparent suicide in 2011. Timmothy Pitzen would be 14 now.

Based on information given by Rini, the FBI and local law enforcement initiated a missing child and interstate sex trafficking investigation. “Given the physical complaints and obvious trauma one would expect if one was, in fact, a child who had been missing and abducted for many years, he was taken to Cincinnati children’s hospital,” Glassman said Friday.

Rini had recently been released from prison in Ohio after a more-than-year-long sentence stemming from convictions for burglary and vandalism, according to state prison records. On Friday, he was held without bond for lying to federal agents, a felony that carries a sentence of up to eight years. He will next appear in court Tuesday.

The Pitzen missing-persons case will remain open.

In May 2011, 6-year-old Timmothy was last seen leaving his elementary school in Aurora with his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen.

Three days later, she was found dead in a motel room from an apparent suicide. The boy and his Spider-Man backpack were gone. The 43-year-old mother left behind several cryptic notes about her son’s whereabouts and unanswered questions that have haunted family members and authorities with each passing year.

“My heart goes out to the family of Timmothy Pitzen,” said Glassman, the U.S. attorney. “I can only imagine the kind of pain that they have been through and that this episode has brought.”

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