A 23-year-old man -- who claimed to be a teen who disappeared from Illinois in 2011 and told authorities he'd just escaped the clutches of two burly kidnappers -- was charged Friday with lying to federal officials.
Officials announced the charges against Brian Rini, 23, of Medina, Ohio and said the suspect had twice before made similar claims in which he falsely portrayed himself as a juvenile sex trafficking victim.
The FBI declared Rini’s story a hoax Thursday based on DNA testing one day after he identified himself to authorities as Timmothy.
Officials said Rini was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital after he made the claim he was Timmothy. He initially refused to give his fingerprints but did allow for a nurse to take a swab, which authorities were able to extract DNA from.
When authorities determined his DNA didn’t match DNA from the Pitzen family, officials questioned Rini. The man initially told agents he was the missing boy and doubled down on his claim when he was confronted again. After being confronted about the DNA test, Rini confessed he was not Timmothy.
If convicted, Rini could face up to eight years in jail.
For the Pitzen family, the week had been a roller coaster.
“It’s like reliving that day all over again, and Timmothy’s father is devastated once again, as are we,” the missing boy’s aunt Kara Jacobs said.
The boy’s grandmother Alana Anderson hoped that when Timmothy was old enough, he would find his family again.
She hoped that if he’s “in a place where he has communication with the media or a computer, that he’ll remember us enough to look for us, and I think he will. He’s a very smart guy.”
The Aurora, Illinois, community – where Timmothy is from – was also crushed.
“I know the community won’t give up that he is out there,” Nick Baughman, who was the principal of the school when Timmothy’s mother took the boy out of his kindergarten class May 11, 2011.
Reporters attempted to contact James Pitzen, Timmothy’s father, at his Iowa home, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. However, a person who answered the door reportedly said he would not be talking to the media.
Investigators have said that Timmothy disappeared after his mother, 43-year-old Amy Fry-Pitzen, picked him up from school in May 2011. It's believed she took the boy to the zoo and a water park in Wisconsin before apparently killing herself in a hotel room in Illinois.
Fry-Pitzen left a note saying her son was fine. Police investigating her death said she took steps that suggested she might have, as she said in her note, dropped her son off with a friend.
Aurora Police Sgt. Bill Rowley told The Associated Press that the boy “disappeared ten years ago and we've probably had thousands of tips of him popping up in different areas.”
Fox News’ Nicole Darrah and the Associated Press contributed to this report.