CHICAGO (CBS) — Timmothy Pitzen has been missing for eight years, and authorities in west suburban Aurora and the Cincinnati area are trying to determine if a 14-year-old boy found in Newport, Kentucky, on Wednesday is the missing teen.
The boy was found wandering alone Wednesday morning. He told police he is Timmothy Pitzen, and had escaped from two kidnappers who had held him for seven years. Investigators are now awaiting DNA tests to confirm if the boy is Timmothy.
Here is a timeline of events of Timmothy’s disappearance and the subsequent investigation.
May 11, 2011 – Timmothy’s mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, picked him up from his school at Greenman Elementary in Aurora around 8:15 a.m., unbeknownst to his father, James Pitzen, who arrived to pick him up later that day.
Amy had been having difficulties in her marriage and was suffering from depression. She had left before, but never with Timmothy.
By the time Timmothy’s father made his first call to check on him and his mother, they were already on their way to Brookfield Zoo. From the zoo, Timmothy and his mother headed to Key Lime Resort in Gurnee, a hotel and water park.
May 12, 2011 – The next day, Amy and Timmothy headed to the Wisconsin Dells, where Amy checked into the Kalahari Resort, stopping along the way to buy clothes, a toy car, and a small craft kit at a convenience store; and to get gas and drinks off Interstate 94.
James called in a missing person report to Aurora police, who immediately entered Timmothy’s name into a national database of missing children. Police did not issue an Amber Alert, because Amy had yet to commit a crime, and Timmothy was not believed to be in danger.
May 13, 2011 – Surveillance video caught Amy and Timmothy checking out of the Kalahari Resort. Timmothy is seen holding his mother’s hand and checking the child’s backpack she’s carrying. He appears to be bored with waiting in line. For police, it’s the last images of mother and son together. Within hours, Amy’s trip would veer from coherence.
Up until leaving the Kalahari, the trip seems to have purpose. Through cell phone calls, iPass records and credit card receipts, police have been able to confirm that on Wednesday and Thursday, May 11 and 12, Amy mostly took main roads, chose logical point-to-point routes and made good time.
Then, while driving south on Interstate 39 and west on Interstate 88 toward Sterling, she finally started calling family members — although not her husband. The conversations seemed normal. Family heard Timmothy in the background, and at one point he got on the phone.
Police said nothing about those calls raised any alarms, but that’s where the trail turned cold.
Amy drove about 170 miles toward Sterling, along the Rock River, about 80 miles west of Aurora, and then turned her cell phone off for the last time. Police were unable to confirm she had any ties to the area.
Surveillance cameras later caught Amy alone at a grocery store in Winnebago, west of Rockford, around 8 p.m.
May 14, 2011 – Amy was found dead in a hotel room at the Rockford Inn at about 12:30 p.m., having slit her wrists. She left a note indicating Timmothy was safe, and she had left him in the care of unnamed people, but that no one would find him.
Police found Amy’s SUV in the parking lot, and towed it back to Aurora to search for clues, including samples of dirt and growth investigators believed might show where the van traveled.
May 19, 2011 – More than 70 people spend the day fanning out in the Sterling/Rock Falls area to search for Timmothy, but come up with nothing. Police said Amy had made cell phone calls from that area before she was found dead.
May 23, 2011 – Aurora police confirm Timmothy’s child car seat, thought to have been missing from his mother’s vehicle, was in his grandmother’s possession. The grandmother took possession of the seat when she cared for the boy the week prior to Amy Fry-Pitzen leaving with Timmothy. When the grandmother returned Timmothy to his home, she apparently forgot to return the child seat.
June 14, 2011 – A month-long search for Timmothy appeared to have turned cold, as police acknowledged they were no farther along than the first days of the search. Investigators were still examining dirt from Amy’s car, and checking websites she visited the days before her suicide.
“We still continue to expend tremendous amounts of resources on trying to find exactly what happened to Timmothy,” Aurora Police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said at the time. “Unfortunately, there are still no solid leads.”
Aug. 11, 2011 – Aurora police confirmed Timmothy’s blood had been found in Amy’s SUV, although investigators said it could have been the result of a mere bloody nose.
Nov. 18, 2011 – Police release surveillance video of Timmothy and Amy at Key Lime Cove Resort in Gurnee, and at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Dec. 28, 2011 – Police investigate reports Timmothy was sighted at a Denny’s restaurant in North Aurora, but after police tracked down the car in which the boy was seen, it turned out the boy was not Timmothy, but the son of the car’s owner.
Another tip earlier in the month also falsely claimed the boy had been spotted in Massachusetts. Aurora police said they fielded dozens of possible sightings, all of which were false, and most of which were easily dismissed.
May 13, 2013 – Two years after Timmothy disappeared, police said they were still trying to tie trace evidence found in Amy’s vehicle to specific locations, in hopes of pinpointing where she and Timmothy had traveled.
Authorities said leads and sightings continued to trickle from across the country in at a rate of about five a month, but nothing panned out.
May 9, 2014 – The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released an age-progressed image of Timmothy, showing what he would look like at age 9.
May 12, 2015 – The NCMEC released another age-progressed photo of Timmothy, this time showing how he would look at age 10.
April 3, 2019 – A woman in Newport, Kentucky, spotted a boy wandering alone. He told her he is Timmothy Pitzen, from Illinois, and had escaped from two white men built like bodybuilders, who had been holding him for seven years. The woman called 911, and the boy was taken to a hospital in Cincinnati.
Authorities in the Cincinnati area contacted Aurora police, who sent two detectives to interview the boy, and conduct a DNA test to confirm if the boy is Timmothy.
April 3, 2019 – The FBI says the boy is not Timmothy Pitzen.
“FBI Louisville, FBI Cincinnati, Aurora Police Department, Newport Police Department, Cincinnati Police Department, and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office have been conducting an investigation into an alleged missing person,” the FBI said in a statement. “DNA results have been returned indicating the person in question is not Timmothy Pitzen.”