Authorities say the person making the claim was actually a 23-year-old ex-convict who was recently released from an OH prison. Brian Michael Rini, 23, was charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after a DNA test proved he was not the boy.
Enough evidence exists to charge Rini with lying to federal authorities, the affidavit said.
DNA tests later confirmed he was not Timmothy Pitzen, an IL native who would be 14 years old now, but a resident of Medina, Ohio, who had been released from prison less than a month ago.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman answers questions during a news conference regarding Brian Rini, at the U.S. Attorney's Office in downtown Cincinnati on April 5, 2019.
For a day and a half, relatives waited and hoped for a breakthrough. After he was shown the DNA results, Rini eventually admitted he was not Pitzen. "Law enforcement takes dishonest reports very seriously, and we caution that people making false claims can and will face criminal penalties", Herb Stapelton, acting special agent of FBI Cincinnati, said in a statement.
He twice portrayed himself in OH as a juvenile victim of sex trafficking, and in each case was identified after being fingerprinted, authorities said.
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"Unfortunately, that day will not be today", authorities said.
Over the years, Aurora police have received thousands of tips about Timmothy, including false sightings, and the information never led anywhere.
Later that day, his mother took him out of school, and authorities found Pitzen's mother dead by suicide two days later in a motel room in Rockford, Illinois.
"We're always anxious about copycats, especially something that has a big national attention like this", said Sgt Bill Rowley of Aurora police.
The story that Timmothy might have been found spread quickly online Wednesday, as users weighed in to say they prayed for the child's safe return.
Police have said she might have dropped the boy off with a friend, noting that his auto seat and Spider-Man backpack were gone.
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Rini told investigators that he wished he had a father like Timmothy's, because if he had gone missing, he said, his own father would just keep drinking, according to the affidavit.
"It's devastating. It's like reliving that day all over again, and Timmothy's father is devastated once again", said his aunt Kara Jacobs.
"I feel so sorry for the young man who's obviously had a frightful time and felt the need to say he was someone else", Alana Anderson, the still-missing boy's grandmother, told reporters Thursday. She held out hope that if he's "in a place where he has communication with the media or a computer, that he'll remember us enough to look for us, and I think he will. It's just been exhausting".
Pedro Melendez, who lives in Timmothy's former home, didn't know the boy but saved the concrete slab with his name, handprint and footprint etched in it when he redid the back patio.
"I'll tell the family that I'm sorry for what he's done", he said.
People who talked to Rini before police arrived said he was anxious and pleaded for help.
Mystery surrounds the possible discovery of a boy who disappeared in 2011
The boy told police he was staying with the alleged kidnappers in a Red Roof Inn, but he didn't know where it was located. Authorities said she killed herself and left a note saying Pitzen was safe and being cared for by someone who loved him.