Teen found in Newport says he’s missing child from 7 years ago
CINCINNATI – “You will never find him.”
That was the startling claim in a suicide note discovered in a hotel room in Rockford, Illinois, on the morning of May 13, 2011.
Police said the note was penned by Amy Fry-Pitzen, the mother of 6-year-old Timmothy, who had been missing since Pitzen signed him out of his kindergarten class just two days earlier.
Timmothy wasn’t with his mom when her body was found, but the note said he was safe, that he was with people who would care for him, but that he would never be found.
Now, nearly eight years later, Timmothy might finally be reunited with his family.
On Wednesday, a 14-year-old boy told authorities in Newport, Kentucky, that he is Timmothy Pitzen. He said he escaped from kidnappers in Ohio and ran across the bridge for help.
The identity has not been confirmed publicly, but if that 14-year-old really is Timmothy, it will mark the final chapter in a bizarre and heartbreaking case that has captured national attention for nearly a decade.
Who is Timmothy Pitzen?: Who is the boy who disappeared nearly 8 years ago from the Chicago area?
Missing boy found?: DNA tests could confirm today if teen is Timmothy Pitzen, missing since 2011
‘I told him I loved him and to be good’
The Pitzens lived in Aurora, Illinois, and by all accounts were an average family. Timmothy was described as extroverted and energetic in the initial reports, a happy, playful child.
Amy and her husband, Jim, were going through a rough patch, but Jim would later tell People Magazine that he had no clue what was coming.
Jim said that Amy had previously survived a suicide attempt and had been taking medication for depression. He said the couple had been arguing before Timmothy’s disappearance because Amy took a cruise with a friend for her birthday, leaving Jim behind.
Jim said Amy, who had been divorced three times before, had mentioned splitting up. Years after her death, friends and family speculated in a CNN special that Amy’s behavior was based in fear that her history of mental illness might prevent her from getting custody of Timmothy if she and Jim divorced.
On the morning of May 11, 2011, Jim dropped off Timmothy at Greenman Elementary School in Aurora. Jim watched his 6-year-old run toward his kindergarten teacher, swinging his Spider-Man backpack.
“I told him I loved him and to be good,” Jim told People Magazine. “And then he was gone.”
About 30 minutes later, Amy showed up at the school. She told staff there was a family emergency, and she signed out her son. Security footage shows them leaving the school around 8:30 a.m.
Jim had no idea Timmothy had left school. He only found out when he came back to pick up his son at the end of the day, according to an interview with True Crime Daily.
Jim checked the house and Amy’s work. He called her phone, but it went straight to voicemail.
The next morning, May 12, 2011, Jim reported the two missing.
‘Timmothy belongs to me’
Amy never returned Jim’s calls, but she did check in with her mother. She told her mom they were fine and they’d be home in a day or two. She said she just needed some space.
She also called Jim’s brother. She told him as well that everything was fine, but “Timmothy belongs to me,” according to True Crime Daily.
While friends and family were frantically searching for Amy and Timmothy, the mother and son were on a vacation of sorts. They went to a zoo near Chicago, a waterpark in Gurnee, Illinois, and then a resort in Wisconsin. Surveillance footage showed them walking hand-in-hand.
“Timmothy was following mom,” Jim told True Crime Daily. “Timmothy was playing with what looked like a semi-truck on the floor. Timmothy was happy and didn’t seem to have any distress or anything.”
Amy also apparently bought Timmothy toys on the trip, according to the Daily Herald, including a blue Hot Wheels starter set and pretend gold coins decorated with animals.
Timmothy was last seen on security camera footage at about 10 a.m. on May 13, 2011, when he and his mom checked out of the Kalahari resort in Wisconsin. Shortly after 8 p.m. that night, Amy was spotted on surveillance video at a grocery store in Rockford, Illinois. She was alone.
She checked into a hotel around 11:15 p.m. that night.
A note and a missing cellphone
A housekeeper found her body the next morning. She was 42.
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Kareem Elgazzar, email@example.com
Amy’s tombstone describes her in two words: Loving mother.
She named her son Timmothy, with two Ms, because she wanted him to feel special, according to a CNN report.
“She just adored that little boy, and he just adored her,” Alana Anderson, Amy’s mother, told CNN.
But there are indications that Timmothy’s disappearance was planned. Amy’s cellphone showed one of her last calls pinged off a cellphone tower near Sterling, Illinois. Using toll records, police found that Amy had made two trips to that area months earlier.
Despite a massive effort early on – intense publicity and an extensive search for Timmothy – the case seemed to quickly go cold.
There were, however, some revelations in the following years that authorities believed could lead to Timmothy.
In 2012, police released more surveillance footage that helped map Amy’s final moves.
In 2013, her cellphone was turned in. A woman had found the phone on the side of the road in Illinois in 2011 but had not realized its significance, according to the Chicago Tribune. The phone sat on a shelf for two years until the woman gave it to her brother when he needed a new phone. Once it was turned on, a family friend recognized some of the names in the contact list.
Ultimately, though, nothing came of it.
Still, hope – and headlines – persisted.
In 2015, police pursued a tip after a Florida caller said there was a boy in her neighborhood who looked a lot like an age-progressed image of Timmothy that had been produced by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The caller said the boy had moved into her neighborhood soon after Timmothy’s disappearance, according to a Chicago Tribune report. She said the family’s vehicle had a Midwestern license plate and that the boy never went to school.
Aurora investigators agreed the boy looked a lot like the progression photograph. But it wasn’t Timmothy.
Through the years, Jim has publicly said that he believed his son was alive and out there, somewhere. He even kept working on a treehouse he was building for Timmothy, according to the Daily Herald.
Jim said he didn’t understand why Timmothy hadn’t tried to call, wondering what, exactly, Amy might have told their son during those days in May 2011.
Jim told People Magazine that he and Amy had taught Timmothy how to call 911. They even gave him an identification card made for children, the magazine reported, with Timmothy’s name, picture and fingerprint, “so if he got lost somewhere you could find him.”
That identification card was found in the hotel room where Amy died.
Follow Hannah Sparling and Carol Motsinger on Twitter: @hksparling and @carolemotsinger
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