Timmothy Pitzen’s family members aren’t giving up hope on finding the missing boy despite the devastating development.
CINCINNATI – Events played out in the Cincinnati area this week like a scene from the documentary “The Imposter.”
It was not Pitzen – an Illinois boy who went missing in May 2011 at age 6 – it was 23-year-old Brian Rini of Medina, Ohio.
“The Imposter” recounts an eerily similar story from over two decades ago in Texas. Frenchman Frederic Bourdin fraudulently claimed he was Nicholas Barclay, a Texas boy who at age 14 never returned home after playing basketball with friends.
Instances of attempted deception like the one experienced in Newport are rare, according to John Bischoff, executive director of Missing Children’s Division of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
“There have been cases in the past, for one reason or another, a child believed that they were, in fact, someone else,” he said. “But with circumstances surrounding this instance, it was pretty unique.”
As the scenario played out in Newport, for a split second, the entire community experienced the hope and frustration that parents of missing children experience throughout their lives, he said. That roller coaster of emotions parents feel of wanting their child back and experience of tips and leads that don’t pan out.
“All and all, we’re extremely sad at the outcome here,” he said. “But the search goes on.”
He heard Timmothy’s story on ’20/20′: Timmothy Pitzen impostor Brian Michael Rini charged
According to FBI reports, 464,324 National Crime Information Center entries were made in 2017 for missing children.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has over 6,000 open cases. The case involving Timmothy Pitzen is one.
Law enforcement tracks down leads every day, some as promising as the one in Newport seemed initially, Bischoff said.
Since Pitzen went missing , the NCMEC said it’s received over 120 leads. All were passed along to enforcement. Law enforcement reports receiving thousands of leads in the case from various sources.
While the center and Pitzen’s family hoped the Kentucky lead would result in a reunion, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, Bischoff said.
If there is a silver lining from the incident, it’s the now increased awareness and community engagement in not only Timmothy Pitzen’s case but also for missing children in general, he said.
Bischoff is hopeful the heightened awareness and engagement continues and encourages people to remain vigilant. Look at images of missing children posted on websites like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“These children are out there, and the majority of them are in the public every day,” Bischoff said. “The hope is someone somewhere will see the right image at the right time to turn into a positive recovery.”
Timmothy Pitzen is still out there, Bischoff said.
“We’ll never lose hope. We’re side-by-side with the family and law enforcement,” Bischoff said. “We’ll never give up hope that Timmothy Pitzen is out there.”
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