US police were working Thursday to confirm whether a teenager found a day earlier was the same boy who went missing eight years ago after his mother was found dead.
In a case that spanned multiple states and involved the FBI, a 14-year-old found wandering the streets of a Cincinnati, Ohio suburb told police he was Timmothy Pitzen and had escaped from his captors.
Pitzen was six years old when he disappeared in 2011. His mother was found dead in a hotel of an apparent suicide. She reportedly left a note saying the child was “safe.”
“You’ll never find him,” Amy Fry-Pitzen wrote, according to CNN.
Officials from Pitzen’s hometown of Aurora, Illinois — a Chicago suburb — said they were not ready to say the case was solved, confirming only that detectives were still investigating.
“We still have no confirmation of the identity of the person located,” the Aurora Police Department said in a statement, adding that more information could become available later in the day.
“Our primary focus here is in assisting the FBI in their investigation, and provide information from our missing person case involving Timmothy Pitzen, should this prove to be him,” Aurora police said.
The teen had visible bruises on his face when he was found and told witnesses he had been running for hours, according to US media reports.
He told police he had escaped from two men with bodybuilder physiques who were holding him at a hotel in an area approximately 300 miles (480 km) from his hometown of Aurora, according to a police report.
A witness who called 911 told emergency officials: “I asked him what’s going on, and he tells me he’s been kidnapped and he’s been traded through all these people and he just wanted to go home,” Cincinnati TV station WCPO reported.
Before his disappearance in May of 2011, Pitzen’s mother had taken her son out of school and on a trip that covered over 500 miles (800 kilometers) in two days, CNN said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said Pitzen was last seen at a water park in the midwestern state of Wisconsin. His mother was found dead at a hotel in neighboring Illinois.
CNN said Fry-Pitzen had left a note saying her son “was safe with people who would love and care for him.”
Pitzen’s grandmother, Alana Anderson, told Chicago TV station WLS that she was “hopeful” the child had been recovered and that “he’s ok and he’s been in a good place.”