Timmothy Pitzen’s family members aren’t giving up hope on finding the missing boy despite the devastating development.
CINCINNATI — The Ohio man who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, an Illinois boy who went missing in 2011 at age 6, has been charged by the FBI with making false statements to a federal agent, according to the FBI and U.S. attorneys.
Brian Michael Rini, 23, was charged Friday in federal court.
According to the complaint, Rini claimed to be Timmothy and had escaped from his captors after years of sexual and physical abuse.
The federal agent said Rini refused to give his fingerprints after he was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Eventually, he did agree to do a DNA swab, which was submitted to be compared with Timmothy’s parents’ DNA and against an FBI database.
The FBI database returned a hit for Rini.
After confronted by officers with his real identity, Rini said he heard Timmothy’s story on ABC’s “20/20.”
“He stated that he wanted to get away from his own family. When questioned further, Rini stated that he wished he had a father like Timmothy’s because if he went missing, his father would just keep drinking,” the complaint said.
Federal agents said Rini has presented himself as a juvenile victim of sex trafficking twice before this, according to the complaint.
Officials said Rini appeared in federal court Friday morning and he is currently in the custody of U.S. Marshals. Rini could face up to 8 years in federal prison, said U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman.
U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said law enforcement responded to the situation “exactly as you would hope they would,” contacting other federal and local law enforcement.
A Cincinnati police officer working with the FBI task force spoke to Rini who insisted he was Timmothy until confronted with DNA evidence.
Glassman said the search for Timmothy is still ongoing.
“My heart goes out to the family of Timmothy Pitzen,” Glassman said. “I can only imagine the pain they’ve been through.”
Herb Stapleton, a Cincinnati FBI acting special agent in charge, said, “false reports like this one can be painful to the families of victims,” and also waste valuable law enforcement resources.
Stapleton said FBI agents had been speaking with Timmothy’s family during the investigation this week.
Stapleton’s counterpart in Louisville, Robert Brown, said the outpouring of support regarding this case “gives everyone hope” that Timmothy will be found.
Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said her office performed the DNA analysis. It was completed Thursday afternoon.
Sammarco said Rini’s DNA was compared to the DNA of Timmothy’s parents. When that didn’t match, Rini’s DNA was entered into law enforcement databases.
Sammarco said this case has been difficult because “there’s no greater win for law enforcement than to find a missing child.”
Glassman said law enforcement “moved heaven and earth to determine if they had found a missing child.”
“I think there were suspicions relatively quickly,” he said, but the priority was to “ensure that under any circumstances a victim is getting the care they need.”
Glassman said the investigation into Rini is ongoing.
On Wednesday, Rini told police he was Timmothy, who has been missing from Illinois for nearly eight years.
He has an adult criminal record dating back to 2013.
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