The man who told police he was missing person Timmothy Pitzen has been charged with lying to federal law enforcement agents after a DNA test proved his claims were false.
Brian Michael Rini, 23, was charged Friday with making a false statement or representation to a department or agency of the United States. He is being held in federal custody until a formal detention hearing on April 9.
On Wednesday, Rini told police he was Timmothy Pitzen — who went missing in 2011 at the age of 6 — after he was found wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky. Rini claimed that he had been kidnapped and abused for years and recently escaped his two male captors, prompting a multistate search for suspects matching the descriptions he gave police.
Pitzen was last seen being checked out from school by his mother in Aurora, Illinois, in 2011. Days later, his mother was found dead in a hotel room. She left notes stating that her son was with people who would love and take care of him and that he would never be found.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Ohio, Rini only admitted that he was not Pitzen after FBI agents confronted him with the results of a DNA test.
Soon after being taken into custody by Kentucky police, Rini complained of stomach pain and was taken to the emergency room at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, FBI Task Force Officer Mary Braun wrote in the complaint. While in the hospital, he spoke to Braun and other agents who investigate child trafficking and crimes against children.
He told the FBI that he was Pitzen and that he had recently escaped from a hotel room where two men had been holding him captive. Rini said that he had been sexually and physically abused for years.
While in the hospital on Wednesday, Rini refused to let agents fingerprint him, but consented to a DNA swab. On Thursday, the DNA test not only proved that he wasn't the missing child, but it correctly identified him as a convicted criminal who had recently been released from an Ohio prison on parole.
Armed with this information, the FBI approached Rini on Thursday and advised him of his Miranda rights and the penalty for lying to federal agents before asking him again about his identity. Per the complaint, he continued to claim that he was 14-year-old Pitzen and that he had been the victim of physical and sexual abuse for years — until he was informed of the results of his DNA test.
Rini told the officers that he had seen a story about Timmothy on ABC's 20/20 and lied about his identity because 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."
Per the complaint, Rini had on two previous occasions portrayed himself to police as a juvenile sex trafficking victim.
"False reports like this one can be painful to the families of missing children and also divert law enforcement resources in order to investigate these untruthful claims," Herb Stapleton of FBI Cincinnati said in a press conference Friday. "Law enforcement takes dishonest reports very seriously ... and we caution that people making false claims can and will face criminal penalties."