On Wednesday a child with bruising on his face approached police officers and told them he had been held hostage for years by kidnappers with ‘body-builder physiques’.
The boy, who was “very scared and agitated” according to neighbours, said he had managed to flee from two kidnappers who had been holding him in a Red Roof Inn believed to be in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Seeing his chance to escape the boy fled across a bridge and over the state line into Newport, Kentucky.
One woman told CBS Chicago the boy told her that he had been running for two hours.
He also said he had “been passed around for years”.
The boy explained to authorities that he is Timmothy Pitzen, a six-year-old who vanished without a trace on May 11, 2011.
If true his reappearance will shed light on a missing person’s case that has baffled the Aurora, Illinois community.
Having been dropped off at Greenman Elementary School in his home town by his father on May 11, 2011, Timmothy’s mother Amy Fry-Pitzen explained to staff there had been a family emergency and checked the boy out of class.
The two then went on a three day holiday, taking trips to a zoo and water park and driving 600 miles across several states.
A day into the mini-break dad James Pitzen reported the pair missing before Fry-Pitzen was found dead in a motel room in Rockford with slashes to her wrists.
The mum had checked into the motel alone, according to police reports at the time.
Beside Fry-Pitzen’s body was a note claiming that her son was safe but that he “would never be found”.
While Fry-Pitzen had a history of mental illness and had taken medication for depression, family members are convinced she would not have hurt her child.
Her mother Alana Anderson told CNN: “She just adored that little boy, and he just adored her.”
On the same topic Timmothy’s aunt, Kara Jacobs, said to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2018: “She just wouldn’t have. She had nothing but kindness and consideration for other people in her life.”
The child’s complete disappearance baffled his father James, who told People in 2015: “I always wonder what she told Timmothy. Why hasn’t he tried to call?
“We taught him how to dial 911. ‘This is your number, this is your mom’s number, you know where you live, your address,’ all the stuff you do.
“We got one of those little IDenticards for kids, with his fingerprint and his name and a picture of him, so if he got lost somewhere you could find him.”
When the boy appeared on Wednesday he told officers in the suburb of Sharonville in Cincinnati that he had “just escaped from two kidnappers” he described as white men with body builder-type physiques.
They were driving a Ford SUV with Wisconsin licence plates.
A police search was immediately launched with all Red Roof Inn hotels checked in the area.
Aurora Police Sergeant Bill Rowley said: “We’ve probably had thousands of tips of him popping up in different areas. We have no idea what we’re driving down there for.
“It could be Pitzen. It could be a hoax.”
According to local news Patch, it is not the first time police have received a tip that a boy identified as Timmothy had been found.
In 2014, on the day which an age-progressed photo of Timmothy was released, a woman from Winnebago County claimed to have seen him at a garage sale, NBC Chicago reported.
And in 2015, the officials received a tip that a child living in Orlando, Florida, looked just like Timmothy.
- If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this story, Samaritans are available to talk 24/7 on 116 123.