A 23-year-old man who claimed that he was Timmothy Pitzen, a missing boy who vanished in 2011 at the age of 6, was charged on Friday with making false statements to a federal agent.
Brian Rini, of Medina, Ohio, suddenly appeared along a street in Newport, Ky., this week, pleading for help from passers-by, asserting that he had been held for years against his will, and offering detailed descriptions of his purported kidnappers, the authorities said.
The man’s tale sent law enforcement authorities scrambling to determine whether he was Timmothy and reopened the hopes of Timmothy’s relatives, who have waited anxiously through eight years, a massive national search and lots of leads that ultimately wound up going nowhere.
But this false lead, law enforcement authorities said, was meant to cause harm.
DNA tests quickly revealed that the man was not Timmothy, but Mr. Rini, a felon who had been released from prison a month ago after serving 14 months of an 18-month sentence for burglary and vandalism. It was uncertain how Mr. Rini had convinced the authorities that he was only 14, the age Timmothy would be now.
Mr. Rini had experience posing as someone he wasn’t, records show. In his recent court case, the police said Mr. Rini had pretended to be a prospective home buyer so that he could gain access to a $400,000 custom-built house in a Cleveland suburb and give a party that he promoted on Facebook. The party left thousands of dollars in damage.
Timmothy’s disappearance had shaken northern Illinois in the spring of 2011. Timmothy vanished that May after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, took him out of an elementary school in Aurora, Ill., and drove him to Wisconsin, where they were last seen together at a water park.
Ms. Fry-Pitzen’s body was found soon after in a motel room in Rockford, Ill., after an apparent suicide. She left a note saying that her son, Timmothy, was now in safe hands with someone who loved him and that “You will never find him.”
A massive, yearslong search, wide distribution of posters showing Timmothy’s photo and urgent pleas from his father and other relatives have failed to locate Timmothy.