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A 6-year-old boy disappeared with his mother in 2011. This week, a person claimed to be the same child, telling police he had just escaped a pair of kidnappers.
However, the FBI said Thursday afternoon that DNA test results indicate the person is not Timmothy Pitzen, who vanished from Aurora, Illinois, after his mother checked him out of school early.
The person's real name is Brian Michael Rini, 23, from Medina, Ohio, a police official in Kentucky told NBC News.
The Aurora Police Department said in a statement that although it is "disappointed that this turned out to be a hoax, we remain diligent in our search for Timmothy, as our missing person's case remains unsolved."
Pitzen and his mother were last seen in May 2011 at a Wisconsin water park. Three days later, the boy's mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, was found dead from an apparent suicide in an Illinois motel room, according to a police report and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Fry-Pitzen left behind a cryptic note saying that her son was safe with people who would love and care for him, police said.
On Wednesday, a frantic person who identified himself as 14-year-old Timmothy appeared in a Kentucky neighborhood. Witnesses said he seemed scared and begged them to call 911.
“He doesn't know who's not going to harm him and who is,” area resident Fray Knight said. “I think that was his biggest fear, he had no trust really for anyone.”
According to the police report, the person told investigators he had “just escaped two kidnappers that have been holding him for seven years.” Police said the person claimed to be staying in a Red Roof Inn in the Cincinnati area and ran across a bridge from Ohio into Kentucky.
He described his captors as white men with “a bodybuilder-type build.” One man had a spider web tattoo on his neck, and the other man had a snake tattoo on his arm.
Before the DNA results were revealed, Timmothy’s family members had spoken out about welcoming a potential reunion.
“We were shocked and overjoyed, but scared at the same time,” his maternal aunt, Kara Jacobs, said. "We've always felt strongly that this day will come.”
She said Timmothy’s father was “trying very hard to hold it together” as he awaited word of the person's identity. In a 2011 interview, James Pitzen said he had “a big hole in my heart just waiting for him to come home.”
Timmothy's grandmother, Alana Anderson, said she has never given up hope for his return.
“We have never forgotten, we never stopped thinking about him every day. Stayed in touch with the police,” she said.