US authorities on Friday charged a 23-year-old man released from prison last month with falsely claiming to be a boy who has been missing for eight years.
Brian Rini was charged with a single count of lying to federal authorities for allegedly claiming Wednesday that he was Timmothy Pitzen – missing since 2011, when he was six years old.
The claim briefly raised hopes that the child had finally been found.
But authorities said a DNA test proved Rini’s identity and only then did he allegedly admit he was lying.
“He said he watched a story about Timmothy on ABC’s 20/20,” a criminal complaint filed in federal court by the Department of Justice said, referring to a television news program.
“He stated that 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,” the complaint said.
Authorities said they were charging Rini because false reports harm families of missing children and needlessly divert police resources.
“Law enforcement takes dishonest reports very seriously, and we caution that people making false claims can and will face criminal penalties,” Herb Stapleton, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cincinnati bureau, said in a statement.
Rini is a known felon and had been released from an Ohio state prison last month. He was imprisoned for more than a year on burglary and vandalism convictions, according to the Ohio State Department of Corrections.
Pitzen has not been seen since his mother Amy Fry-Pitzen mysteriously took him out of school early one day in 2011 in their hometown of Aurora, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.
She drove around with him for several days and then checked into a motel, where she took her own life.
She left a note saying Timmothy was “safe” but no trace of the boy has ever been found.
“You’ll never find him,” she wrote.