Written By: Naomi
Trigger Warning: Suicide, Kidnapping,
On October 18th, 2004 Timmothy Pitzen was born in Aurora, Illinois to James Pitzen and Amy Joan Marie Fry-Pitzen. Timmothy was considered a very energetic and extroverted young boy who was happy and loved to play. His family would call him a natural leader who enjoyed the zoo, playgrounds, bikes and go carts, and loved Chuck-E-Cheese pizza, yogurt, macaroni and anything from McDonald's.
Those who saw the Pitzens thought of them as a regular family but inside the home James Pitzen and his wife Amy were having a rough patch and would argue often after Amy had survived a suicide attempt in 2003, a year before she became pregnant with Timmothy. She had overdosed on medication and had passed out while sitting on the edge of a cliff which resulted in her falling over the edge. Amy and James had met at a party in college and had been dating long distance, James had known about Amy’s depression but he felt that her struggling mental health had been from her previous marriage and had hoped that entering into a healthy relationship with him would help her so they married shortly after Timmothy was born. Amy’s family had been aware of her depression and severe mental illness her entire life but felt she was only ever a danger for herself and would do anything for those around her. What had caused the arguments to start between the couple ranged from issues with money, that Amy had disappeared for extended periods of time in the past without notice to luxurious vacations with friends, and recently Amy left with one of her friends on a cruise for her birthday without telling James. The tipping point had been when Amy threatened divorce, something James did not take lightly as Amy had been married 3 times prior that had ended similarly and he was determined to make things work.
The world of the Pitzen family would be completely turned upside down on May 11th, 2011. James took 6 year old Timmothy to kindergarten and told his son he loved him and to be good, He also took his wife Amy to work and sent her off with a kiss. 30 minutes later Amy arrived at the elementary school and signed her son out, telling them that there was a family emergency and that Timmothy needed to come with her. Her son happily ran to his mother at 8:30am and they are seen leaving the school. However there was no emergency and James only found out that his son was not in school when he arrived later that day to pick him up. Worried he returned home and checked for his wife and son there. When he could not find them he also searched for them at Amy’s work and called her cellphone which went directly to voicemail every time. With no further information on where they were, James reported them as missing the following morning as friends and family frantically searched for Amy and her son.
The previous day when Amy had taken Timmothy out of school she took him on a vacation that would send them across the state. Amy took her Blue 2004 Ford Expedition SUV to an auto shop at 10 am and a worker at the repair shop took them to the Brookfield Zoo. They later retrieved the car at 3 pm and set off to Gurnee in Lake County, Illinois where they checked into the Keylime Cove Resort which was an indoor waterpark.
He could be seen playing with new toys she had bought him on their trip which included a semi truck, a blue Hot Wheels starter set and gold coins decorated with animals. They spent the night there before driving to another indoor waterpark called Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin May 12th. Around 10 am that day there was security footage of Amy and Timmothy in the checkout line
which would be the final time Timmothy would ever be seen. Though James had been unsuccessfully trying to get in contact with Amy and Timmothy since they first disappeared on the 11th, Amy would contact her mother on the 13th between 12pm and 1:30pm to reassure her that she and Timmothy were fine and would return home in a few days. She said she felt she needed some space from the fighting that had been going on between her and James. She also would contact James’ brother and tell him that they were safe, but she added that Timmothy belonged to her. In both of these calls Timmothy could be heard in the background talking and telling his mother he was hungry but those she called said he sounded fine.. Cellphone records showed that the calls were placed when they were northwest of Sterling in Whiteside County, Illinois near route 40. Those who knew her believed that Amy was behaving this way due to her fear that if she divorced James she would lose custody of Timmothy due to her mental health history and James having a more stable income.
The final sightings of Amy would be at 7:25pm that evening when she entered a Family Dollar in Winnebago alone to purchase a pen, paper, and envelopes. She was then seen at 8pm, at a grocery store where she was still unaccompanied. She checked into the Rockford inn at Rockford, Illinois at 11:15pm. Sometime that night, Amy completed suicide and was discovered by a hotel maid at 12:30pm May 14th along with a note apologizing for the mess she had left behind. She also left two letters, one for her mother and the other for a friend that hauntingly stated, “ You will never find him” but that Timmothy was safe and with people who would take care of him. Leaving the question, where is Timmothy Pitzen? Here are some of the facts we have to try and locate a boy who has been missing for 9 years, I have been providing details on dates, times and locations in hopes that it can help those looking track her movements and bring up possible leads.
Amy’s cell phone, Timmothy’s Spiderman backpack, his toys, clothes and the clothes Amy had been wearing when they left the resort were missing from the room. Concerned that she had harmed her son the police investigated the knife Amy had used in her suicide but it was found to only have her blood on it.
An examination of her car was done and forensic testing of the plant and sediment on the car suggests it had stopped for a period of time on a gravel area just off an asphalt road that had been treated with glass road making beads which are used to make roads safer in road paint and are reflective. The vehicle had also likely been backed into a grassy meadow or field that contained Queen Annes Lace and Black Mustard plants in the field or along the shoulder of the road. The area would be nearly treeless with only some oak or birch trees in the general area but none directly where the car had stopped. It is likely that there was a pond or small stream close by but the area has no indication that the location was a lawn or farm land for crops leading investigators to believe the area is near or in Lee County or Whiteside County in northwestern Illinois. They are also considering Carrol, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties. In 2013 Amy's phone was turned in by a woman who had found it along route 78 and had kept it for a few years before giving it to her brother when he needed a phone. Her brother recognized one of the names on the phone which resulted in it being turned over to police. This possibly provided a location where the car may have been parked and where other items had possibly been dumped. Police searched the area but could not locate any other evidence and there was no evidence on the phone of Timmothy’s location.
The examination of the car also brought to light a, “concerning amount” of blood stain in the back seat of her car that belonged to Timmothy. A family member tried to debunk this as just being from a nosebleed Timmothy supposedly had almost a year before. Amy’s family refused to believe that she would hurt her son as she adored him. But there were indications that Amy had planned Timmothy’s disappearance in the months leading up to this incident. One of the last pings from Amy’s cellphone before her death had been off a cellphone tower near Sterling, Illinois, using phone records police found that Amy had made two prior trips to the same area months earlier that her family could not explain. Amy had also made an email account under her maiden name several months earlier that police discovered and her husband did not know about. While the email was mainly full of spam there were deleted emails that the police were not able to recover as Yahoo did not maintain those records. Now with many grains of salt, I add that there are some who mention there is a cult in the area that Timmothy disappeared in and have brought up possible connections between Amy and this cult but I can not find anything solid.
The overwhelming sense many get from this case is that Timmothy might have been killed by his mother given the fact that he has never reached out to his family or been found. Amy’s clothes being missing suggests that she needed to dispose of them if they had blood on them.
There is a line in her final note that gives me some pause which reads, ” I can't take the chance of James hurting Timmothy because of my choices, so I have taken him somewhere safe. “ What could she mean by this?
The case went cold until April 3rd, 2019 in Newport, Kentucky the police were called when a teenager was found wandering the streets. When police found the boy he told them he was Timmothy Pitzen and he had just escaped his two kidnappers. The following day, the FBI revealed that this was nothing more than a hoax, and that the boy was actually 23 year old Briam Michael Rini who had just been released less than a month prior from prison for burglary and vandalism charges. This caused further heartbreak for the family but garnered more interest in the case that is now almost a decade old.
James Pitzen believes his son is still alive and for a period of time he continued to build a treehouse that he had started for his son in the hopes he would soon be found and returned home. He is left wondering why his son years later has not attempted to contact him and worries what Amy might have told Timmothy in the days she had kidnapped him that is preventing him from contacting his father or how she had warped the story. They had taught him how to call 911 if he was ever lost or in trouble and had given him an identification card for children with his name and fingerprint to help him be returned home. That card was found in Amy’s hotel room with her body. All of Timmothy's family members have been cooperative and continue to search for him, none of them have been named suspects in his disappearance.
Timmothy Pitzen age 7 (2011) Digitally Age Progressed to 13 years old
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s page for Timmothy: HERE
Aurora Police Department: (630-256-500)