A 14-year-old boy who said he escaped from two kidnappers in Ohio told authorities he is from Illinois, where he went missing nearly eight years ago when his mother apparently took her own life.
The boy told police in Newport, Kentucky, that he is Timmothy and he escaped from two men who had held him captive for seven years, ABC 7 Chicago reported police saying. He said he was held in a hotel room in southern Ohio and ran across a bridge to Kentucky.
Neighborhood residents called police after they found the boy wandering, looking confused and nervous.
The boy said his kidnappers were two white men with a “bodybuilder type build” and tattoos, according to the Sharonville, Ohio, police report. He said he escaped and kept running across a bridge in Kentucky. They had been staying at a Red Roof Inn, but he said he did not know where.
The report said the men were driving a “newer model Ford SUV, bearing unknown Wisconsin plates, with a 2nd row, white in color with yellow transfer paint, and a dent on the left back bumper.”
Two Aurora police detectives went to Ohio to help determine whether a teenager there is really Pitzen, but the department didn’t offer any additional details.
“We cannot confirm that the person of interest here is Timmothy Pitzen,” William Rowley, a spokesman with Aurora police, said in an emailed statement. “At this time we have no further information to provide.”
Timmothy’s grandmother, Alana Anderson, said she is “cautiously optimistic,” ABC 7 Chicago reported. She had a message for her grandson.
“We never stopped looking for him, thinking about him, and we love him and we’ll do everything we can to get him back to a good life,” said Anderson, who lives in the Northern suburbs.
“We don’t want to get our hopes up and our family’s hopes up until we know something. We just don’t want to get our hopes up. We’ve had false reports and false hopes before,” Anderson told WISN-TV in Milwaukee.
Timmothy disappeared on May 11, 2011, after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, unexpectedly took him out of his kindergarten class at Greenman Elementary School in the middle of the day. They visited Brookfield Zoo and a water park in Gurnee that day.
The next day, they went to Kalahari Resort water park in Wisconsin Dells and a store in Racine, Wisconsin, where she bought children’s clothes and toys. It was that day her husband reported the duo missing.
On May 13, she called friends and relatives from somewhere near Dixon, Sterling and Rock Falls, police say. The recipients told police they heard Timmothy in the background, saying he was hungry but not seeming to be in distress.
That night, Fry-Pitzen checked in to a motel in Rockford. Fry-Pitzen was found dead the next day after she killed herself by slicing an arm and her neck with a box cutter.
She left a note that said: “Tim is somewhere safe with people who love him and will take care of him. You will never find him.”
Timmothy, along with his Spider-Man backpack, an aquatic-rig toy truck, a blue Hot Wheels toy car starter kit, a tube of children’s Crest toothpaste and her tollway I-PASS were missing.
In August 2011, police disclosed they found a “concerning” amount of Timmothy’s blood in the back seat of Pitzen’s SUV after her death, but they were unsure how long the blood had been there.
Aurora police Sgt. Bill Rowley said Wednesday police can provide a DNA profile from the blood found in the mother’s car, or from samples from the mother and Timmothy’s father. He said the department has followed thousands of leads about the case over the years.
Newport Police Chief Tom Collins said his department received a call of a person “walking around the east side of Newport and didn’t seem like he belonged there. … Things didn’t look right,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
“You can only imagine the challenges we’re going through in the process of identifying who he is,” Collins said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Louisville confirmed it is working with officials in Newport, Cincinnati, Hamilton County and Aurora on a missing child investigation Wednesday, the Enquirer reported.
“There will be no further statement made on this matter until we have additional information,” the Louisville FBI said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.