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Medina man remains in jail on a charge that he lied about being missing boy

  • Missing-Child-Investigation-3-2

    This undated photo provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office in Cincinnati shows Brian Rini. A day of false hope has given way to questions about why Rini would claim to be an Illinois boy who disappeared eight years ago. The FBI declared Rini's story a hoax Thursday, one day after he identified himself to authorities as Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared in 2011 at age 6.



CINCINNATI — A U.S. magistrate ordered a Medina man to remain jailed without bond Tuesday on a charge that he lied to federal agents about being a missing child from Illinois.

Authorities charged Brian Michael Rini, 23, on Friday, a day after DNA testing proved he wasn’t Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared in 2011 at age 6.

“I believe Mr. Rini poses a risk of flight,” Magistrate Karen Litkovitz said during a brief hearing in which Rini stood before her in a uniform from the jail with his wrists and ankles shackled.

She cited his lack of a permanent address, past mental health issues and “a lengthy criminal history” that goes back to age 13.

In Medina police reports dating back to 2012, Rini shows a history of concocting a story that police unravel. Many times criminal charges follow. Other times officers are called to defuse tense situations, often taking Rini to area hospitals where he is evaluated for threats of suicide. In 2017, Rini was treated at a center for people with mental health or substance abuse problems, according to court papers.

The magistrate also noted that he had just been released on probation last month from state prison, after serving more than a year on burglary and vandalism charges. Rini was released from Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville in southeast Ohio on March 7 after serving about 15 months.

The sentence stemmed from an August 2017 party Rini and three friends threw at a model home on Stag Thicket Lane in Brunswick Hills Township that caused $1,250 worth of damage.

Federal authorities said he also has twice before portrayed himself to be a juvenile sex assault victim, as he did in this case.

According to a 2013 Medina police report, Rini told an officer he was near Public Square when he ran into the estranged family member and the two went to a Medina motel. That is where Rini told police he was sexually assaulted and threatened that if he told anyone about the incident he would be killed.

Rini told the officer the same thing happened to him when he was 8 and again when he was 9, but he waited years before reporting the abuse.

Rini initially denied lying to the officer; the officer noted in the report that Rini had a history of fabrication.

“Brian has a history of being untruthful and is currently incarcerated for filing a false report of a bomb threat (during which he contacted the FBI),” wrote Officer Joshua Grusendorf.

Rini was charged with falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor, for a threat to blow up Medina High School. He received one year of probation through Medina Municipal Court.

Litkovitz scheduled an April 19 preliminary hearing for Rini, who was represented by a federal public defender. He could face up to eight years in prison if convicted of making false statements to federal agents.

The Butler County Jail where he’s being held lists him as 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 145 pounds.

Police picked up Rini the morning of April 3 after a report that someone was wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky. They said he told them he was Timmothy and that he had escaped two kidnappers after years of sexual abuse.

Police took him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for treatment and testing. Federal authorities have said they were skeptical, especially after he refused to be fingerprinted but didn’t want to miss a chance to possibly solve the Pitzen disappearance.

The FBI said DNA testing established his identity as a convicted felon.

In 2017, Rini was treated at an Ohio center for people with mental health or substance abuse problems, according to court papers.

Timmothy, of Aurora, Illinois, vanished after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, pulled him out of kindergarten, took him on a two-day road trip to the zoo and a water park, and then killed herself at a hotel. She left a note saying that her son was safe with people who would love and care for him, and added: “You will never find him.”

After Rini’s account was pronounced a hoax last week, Timmothy’s grandmother Alana Anderson said: “It’s been awful. We’ve been on tenterhooks, hopeful and frightened. It’s just been exhausting.”

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