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Police: Person claiming to be long-missing Illinois boy is actually Medina man with criminal past

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    Brian Rini


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    Linda Ramirez stands in front of her house Thursday in Aurora, Illinois, where she was waiting to learn if a 14-year-old who told police he is Timmothy Pitzen and had escaped kidnappers in the Cincinnati area is really him. Ramirez is Timmothy’s grandmother.


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    This undated photo provided by the Aurora, Ill., Police Department shows missing child, Timmothy Pitzen.


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    On Thursday, a slab of concrete sits in the backyard of the house where Timmothy Pitzen used to live in Aurora, Illinois.



This story has been edited to reflect the following correction: Belmont Correctional Institution is in southeast Ohio.

The 23-year-old Medina man who authorities say claimed to be a long-missing Illinois boy recently was released from prison after serving an 18-month sentence that was imposed in Medina County.

Newport, Kentucky, police chief Tom Collins reportedly confirmed to the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday that the person is Brian Rini, of Medina.

When reached Thursday, Medina police Chief Ed Kinney said he had no additional information on Rini.

“Just what I’ve seen in the news,” he said in an email. “Getting a lot of national media calling.”

Still, it appears as if the man who is accused of perpetrating the hoax is the same man with a criminal history in Medina County.

The most recent involvement with local cops and courts was in January 2018.

That was when Rini was sentenced to 18 months in prison on one count of burglary, a third-degree felony, and one count of vandalism, a fifth-degree felony.

He was released from Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville in southeast Ohio, on March 7 after serving about 15 months. The sentence stemmed from an August 2017 party Rini and three friends threw at a model home in Brunswick Hills Township that caused $1,250 worth of damage.

According to a police report, the men trespassed in an unoccupied home on Stag Thicket Lane. The property was then owned by Parkview Homes, and had been used as a model home listed for sale at $400,000.

The police report said Rini had visited the home as a potential buyer prior to the incident with a real estate agent from Howard Hanna Real Estate.

Two days later, Rini introduced himself to neighbors and told them he had purchased the house and was hosting a party that night.

A Parkview Homes representative notified police the next day of damage.

Police found clothing and broken glass scattered on the garage floor. Red plastic cups, empty potato chip bags, bottles of water, liquor, beer cans and cigarettes were among items found in the basement. The report said there was a faint smell of burnt marijuana in the house.

Police noted there were no signs of forced entry. The real estate agent told police she believes Rini obtained the garage code from the keypad without her consent.

In a separate court case, Rini, then 20, who listed his address as a home on North Spring Grove Street in Medina, was sentenced to three years of community control sanctions on one count of passing bad checks, a fifth-degree felony, in December 2015. He also was ordered to pay $1,444.45 in restitution.

He was charged again in early 2017 with theft after he was accused of leaving a restaurant without paying a $68 tab.

Rini is also listed in Medina County court records with Massillon and Seville residences as his home addresses.

FBI rejects young man's claim to be long-missing boy

A young man's claim to be an Illinois boy who disappeared under tragic circumstances eight years ago was disproved by DNA tests and pronounced a hoax Thursday, dashing hopes that the baffling case had finally been solved.

For a day and a half, a breakthrough seemed to be at hand when a young man found wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky, on Wednesday identified himself as 14-year-old Timmothy Pitzen and told police he had just escaped from two men who had held him captive for seven years.

Timmothy disappeared in 2011 at age 6, and a note left behind by his mother before she took her own life said he was being cared for and would never be found. Timmothy's family was cautiously hopeful over Wednesday's news, as were neighbors and others who have long wondered whether he is dead or alive.

But the FBI said Thursday afternoon that DNA tests determined the young man was not Timmothy.

Newport Police Chief Tom Collins identified him to ABC as Rini

Authorities did not say whether Rini would face charges over the alleged hoax or what his motive was.

"Law enforcement has not and will not forget Timmothy, and we hope to one day reunite him with his family. Unfortunately, that day will not be today," FBI spokesman Timothy Beam said in a statement.

In Timmothy's hometown of Aurora, Illinois, police Sgt. Bill Rowley said that over the years his department has received thousands of tips about Timmothy, including false sightings.

"We're always worried about copycats, especially something that has a big national attention like this," he said.

Timmothy's family members said they were heartbroken at the latest twist.

"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.

The boy's grandmother Alana Anderson said: "It's been awful. We've been on tenterhooks, hopeful and frightened. It's just been exhausting." She added, "I feel so sorry for the young man who's obviously had a horrible time and felt the need to say he was somebody else."

Timmothy vanished after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, pulled him out of kindergarten early one day, 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."

Police have said she might have dropped the boy off with a friend, noting that his car seat and Spider-Man backpack were gone.

Timmothy's grandmother said her daughter had fought depression for years and was having problems in her marriage to Timmothy's father. News reports suggested she was afraid she would lose custody of the boy in a divorce because of her mental instability.

At Greenman Elementary after the boy's disappearance, Timmothy's schoolmates, teachers and parents tied hundreds of yellow ribbons around trees and signs. A garden was planted in his memory.

The brief but tantalizing possibility that the case had been solved generated excitement in Timmothy's former neighborhood.

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. It is dated '09.

Linda Ramirez, who lives nearby and knew the family, said she was "pretty excited" but didn't "want to have false hopes."

Rowley expressed hope that the flurry of activity and attention had renewed interest in the case.

"Perhaps, it has people looking at the case with new eyes," the police sergeant said.

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