Suspect charged with impersonating missing Ohio boy ordered to remain in jail

PHOTO: Brian Michael Rini is pictured in an undated handout photo provided by the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office in Cincinnati.PlayHamilton County Sheriff
WATCH Man who pretended to be Timmothy Pitzen lied about being a victim twice before

A convicted felon who impersonated an Ohio boy missing since 2011 was ordered Tuesday to remain in jail until his case is resolved.

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Brian Michael Rini, 23, made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, where Magistrate Karen Litkovitz said she was concerned that the suspect was a flight risk based on his lengthy criminal record, lack of permanent residence and his mental health history, according to ABC affiliate station WCPO-TV in Cincinatti.

A preliminary hearing for Rini is scheduled for April 19.

Authorities said that Rini led law enforcement officials in three states on a wild goose chase on April 3 when he was found wandering around the streets of Newport, Kentucky, and then telling police he was Timmothy Pitzen -- the Aurora, Illinois, boy who disappeared when he was 6 years old in 2011 and would be 14 years old now. Rini allegedly told police he had escaped from two kidnappers, both white males with "body-builder' type builds, who had been holding him at a motel in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville.

PHOTO: Brian Michael Rini is pictured in an undated handout photo provided by the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office in Cincinnati. Hamilton County Sheriff
Brian Michael Rini is pictured in an undated handout photo provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office in Cincinnati.

Detectives from the Cincinnati Police Department and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago probed the claims made by Rini, who refused to submit his fingerprints but gave investigators a DNA sample that showed he was an imposter, according to a criminal complaint.

"It's devastating," Timmothy's aunt, Kara Jacobs, told reporters after authorities revealed the imposter's true identity. "It's like reliving the day all over again," she said. "Timmothy's father is devastated once again."

Timmothy was last seen in 2011 being checked out of his Aurora school by his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, police said. The search for him and his mother spanned the region before his mother was found dead by suicide in a motel room in Rockford, Illinois.

Timmothy Pitzen, pictured left, was last seen at a water park in Dells, Wis., May 12, 2011. Right is an age-progressed image of Pitzen. Aurora Police Department via Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Timmothy Pitzen, pictured left, was last seen at a water park in Dells, Wis., May 12, 2011. Right is an age-progressed image of Pitzen.

Fry-Pitzen left a note saying Timmothy was safe with people who were caring for him, but would never be found, police said.

After he was confronted with the DNA test results that confirmed he was not Timmothy, Rini confessed to his alleged lie and said he learned about the boy from a report on the case that aired on ABC's "20/20," according to the criminal complaint.

"He stated that he wanted to get away from his own family," Cincinnati Police Detective Mary Braun, who is also a member of an FBI Task Force on missing and abused children, wrote in the criminal complaint. "When questioned further, Rini stated that he wished he had a father like Timmothy's..."

According to the criminal complaint, Rini, who has a long criminal record, was released from an Ohio prison on March 7. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials said Rini served an 18-month sentence for burglary and vandalism.

On two previous occasions, Rini falsely "portrayed himself as a juvenile sex trafficking victim," according to the complaint.