Ohio man indicted after pretending to be missing 14-year-old boy
Hamilton County Sheriff(CLEVELAND) — Authorities indicted an Ohio man on fresh charges Thursday for allegedly impersonating Timmothy Pitzen, a boy who vanished in 2011 at the age of 6.
A federal grand jury indicted Brian Michael Rini, 23, on two counts of making false statements and one count of aggravated identity theft after DNA determined that he was not 14-year-old Pitzen.
Rini told investigators in Kentucky that he ran across an Ohio bridge to escape kidnappers who sexualy abused him. DNA testing established he was actually a convicted felon just released from prison.
He eventually confessed, telling investigators that he came up with the ruse to get away from his family.
FBI officials said Rini had portrayed himself as a child sex-trafficking victim on two prior occasions. In those instances, he was only identified once he was fingerprinted, according to the Department of Justice.
“Once law enforcement officers confronted Rini about his true identity, Rini immediately stated he was not Timmothy Pitzen,” the Department of Justice said in a statement Thursday. “He allegedly said he watched a story about Timmothy on ’20/20′ and stated he wanted to get away from his only family. When questioned further, it is alleged that Rini stated ‘he wished he had a father like Timmothy’s.'”
Pitzen vanished from Aurora, Illinois, after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, took him out of school early in May 2011. She was found dead of an apparent suicide in an Illinois hotel a few days later.
Police said his mother left several notes behind, saying Pitzen was with people who loved him — but he was never found.
Pitzen’s maternal grandmother, Alana Anderson, said her family was devastated after learning about Rini’s real identity.
“It’s been awful. We’ve been on tenterhooks,” Anderson said to reporters, adding that the family has been “alternatively hopeful and frightened.” “My prayer has always been that when he is old enough, he would find us if we couldn’t find him.”
Rini was previously charged with one count of making false statements, but Wednesday’s indictment included an additional count of making false statements and a new charge of aggravated identity theft. A federal magistrate ordered for him to be detained pending trial.
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