Timmothy Pitzen: Dad of missing boy says scam by man claiming to be his son feels like ‘ripping off a scab’

When Timmothy Pitzen’s father found out that a “teen” claiming to be his missing boy was actually a 23-year-old man with a lengthy criminal background, he said it was like “ripping off a scab.”

James Pitzen sat down with NBC News and opened up about the moment he found out a criminal used his missing son’s name in an apparent hoax. It wasn’t the first time his hopes were shattered after a false lead, but it didn’t make the latest incident didn’t make it any less painful.

“It’s just painful,” he said during the interview. “Now you’ve gotta wait for the scab to heal.”

How do you protect your children from predators? Join Nancy Grace and a team of world-class experts for the online course ‘Justice Nation: Crime Stops Here’.

The real Timmothy disappeared in 2011 at age six, after his mother, Amy, withdrew him from his Aurora, Illinois, school, claiming there was a family emergency. After taking him to a waterpark and buying him clothes and toys, Amy took her own life in a Rockford, Illinois hotel. Timmothy has not been seen since.

Last week, when a detective told James that someone claiming to be his son was found wandering around in a Newport, Kentucky, neighborhood, the worried father was hopeful at first. James has always maintained his son is still alive.  

When the detective explained that the person claiming to be Timmothy said he never had pets and didn’t “carry himself as a teen,” James had a feeling that authorities were dealing with an imposter.

“The detectives asked him a bunch of questions, and he said he didn’t have any pets and I was like ‘that’s wrong.’ The detectives also said he didn’t carry himself like a 14-year-old, so I pretty much knew it wasn’t him to begin with after that time.”

Jim and Timmothy Pitzen [Handout]
The following day, Jim found out that Brian Rini, of Medina, Ohio, posed as his son after seeing an episode about Timmothy on “20/20.” Rini claimed he liked the way James worried for his son and wanted the same family for himself.

Rini has several mental health issues and disorders, according to his brother, Jonathan, and has done “stupid stuff” in the past. Authorities indicated he’s impersonated missing children at least two times prior to the most recent incident.

“He has several mental issues. He has Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and the list goes on,” 21-year-old Jonathan told CBS 19.

James Pitzen said his close friends gathered around him and helped him keep it together afterward. Although the his hopes were crushed, he saw a silver lining in the ordeal. Timmothy’s name is back in the limelight.

“The exposure will help get his face back out there, get the age impression picture back out there, get a description of what he may look like out.”

Timmothy’s case remains active. Anyone with any information should contact the Aurora police at 630-256-5500, or the NCMEC hotline at 1-800-843-5678.

Join Nancy Grace for her new online video series designed to help you protect what you love most – your children.

[Feature Photo: Timmothy Pitzen/NCMEC]