“My heart goes out to the family of Timmothy Pitzen,” Benjamin C. Glassman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said, announcing the charge against Mr. Rini, which can carry up to eight years in prison. “I can only imagine the kind of pain that they have been through and that this episode has caused for them.”
A lawyer for Mr. Rini did not respond to phone and email messages.
The odd events, which played out over two days amid intense media attention, at first raised the possibility of a happy ending for Timmothy’s extended family, which had waited years for just such a moment. But it soon spiraled into a new layer of misery, as word of a hoax filtered out and the police and relatives in Illinois, where Timmothy had lived, were sent reeling once more. “It’s been awful,” Alana Anderson, Timmothy’s grandmother, said.
All along, parts of Mr. Rini’s story were peculiar.
On Wednesday, he emerged, agitated and bruised, along a Newport, Ky., street, seeking help from passers-by and saying that he was Timmothy, the missing boy, and that he had escaped from captors and was trying to get home. The authorities soon took him to an emergency room at a children’s hospital in Cincinnati, court documents say, but he declined to let the authorities take impressions of his fingerprints, raising early suspicions and complicating efforts to quickly identify him.
Mr. Rini’s age might have seemed to be a tipoff: He is 23, far from the 14 years of age that Timmothy would now be. Images of Mr. Rini suggest someone beyond adolescence, with a 5 o’clock shadow.
“One can imagine that if you were actually a child who had been abducted since 2011 and subjected to who knows what — if those allegations were true — who knows what kind of condition that person would be in?” Mr. Glassman said. “So it’s incumbent on law enforcement in doing the investigation, this one or any others, to make sure that if this person does turn out to be the victim, you’re giving them the care that they need.”