Man accused of claiming to be missing child to remain jailed
CINCINNATI (AP) — A U.S. magistrate ordered an Ohio man to remain jailed without bond Tuesday on a charge that he lied to federal agents about being a missing child from Illinois.
Authorities charged Brian Michael Rini, 23, of Medina, Ohio, on Friday, a day after DNA testing proved he wasn’t Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared in 2011 at age 6.
“I believe Mr. Rini poses a risk of flight,” Magistrate Karen Litkovitz said during a brief hearing in which Rini stood before her in a uniform from the jail with his wrists and ankles shackled.
She cited his lack of a permanent address, past mental health issues and “a lengthy criminal history” that goes back to age 13. She also noted that he had just been released on probation last month from state prison, after serving more than a year on burglary and vandalism charges.
Federal authorities said he also has twice before portrayed himself to be a juvenile sex trafficking victim, as he did in this case.
She scheduled an April 19 preliminary hearing for Rini, who was represented by a federal public defender. He could face up to eight years in prison if convicted of making false statements to federal agents.
The Butler County Jail where he’s being held lists him as 5 feet, 9 inches (175 centimeters) tall and 145 pounds (66 kilograms).
Police picked up Rini the morning of April 3 after a report that someone was wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky. They said he told them he was Timmothy and that he had escaped two kidnappers after years of sexual abuse.
Police took him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for treatment and testing. Federal authorities have said they were skeptical, especially after he refused to be fingerprinted but didn’t want to miss a chance to possibly solve the Pitzen disappearance.
The FBI said DNA testing established his identity as a convicted felon.
In 2017, Rini was treated at an Ohio center for people with mental health or substance abuse problems, according to court papers.
Timmothy, of Aurora, Illinois, vanished after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, pulled him out of kindergarten, took him on a two-day road trip to the zoo and a water park, and then killed herself at a hotel. She left a note saying that her son was safe with people who would love and care for him, and added: “You will never find him.”
After Rini’s account was pronounced a hoax last week, Timmothy’s grandmother Alana Anderson said: “It’s been awful. We’ve been on tenterhooks, hopeful and frightened. It’s just been exhausting.”
Associated Press writer Don Babwin contributed in Chicago.
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