Timmothy Pitzen's father said he hopes news that his missing son had turned up last week — in a story that turned out to be a hoax — reinvigorates the case.
In an interview with NBC News on Sunday, James Pitzen said finding out the man was not his missing son was like "ripping off a scab ... It’s just painful,” he said. "Now you’ve gotta wait for the scab to heal."
Brian Michael Rini, 23, allegedly claimed to be Timmothy when he was found in Kentucky last Wednesday. After DNA disproved his claims, Rini was charged with making false statements to a federal agent in Ohio.
His dad told NBC he believes it's the fourth time authorities have called him with a possible break in the case since Timmothy's disappearance. After getting the call, he said he prepared himself for the inevitable stress and phone calls.
"I’ve dealt with this going on eight years," he said.
Despite news that Rini's claims were false, Pitzen says there's a silver lining. He believes his son is still alive.
"The exposure will help get his face back out there, get the age impression picture back out there, get a description of what he may look like out," he said.
Timmothy, then 6, went missing on May 11, 2011, after he and his mom embarked on a road trip from their Illinois home. He was last seen at a water park in Wisconsin the next day. Three days later, his mom was found dead by suicide in a hotel room in Rockford, Illinois.
In a suicide note, his mom, Amy Fry-Pitzen, said she'd left Timmothy with people "who love him" and that no one would ever find him, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"My heart goes out to the Pitzen family," said U.S. attorney Brian Glassman. "I can only imagine the pain this has caused them."