Motel staff found his mother’s body on May 14, 2011, and a note saying the boy was safe but that he’d never be found.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is hoping to change that with last month’s release of an age-progressed image of what Timmothy might look like today.
According to the center, such images are responsible for reuniting missing children with their families in more than 1,600 cases since 1989.
“We know that our age progression photos help bring home missing children,” Angeline Hartmann, the director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Communications, said in a release.
“This is the face that we ask everybody to look at closely because we know that it’s one way he can be found.”
Pitzen’s disappearance remains every bit the mystery it was 10 years ago.
“It’s hard to believe that we have been searching for Timmothy for 10 long years now,” Jim Pitzen said in a release. “We believe he is out there and we hope every day that he will make his way home.”
Police have not released many details over the years. They continue to say the investigation into the Aurora boy’s disappearance is “active and ongoing.”
“While we cannot comment on specifics, we are using every available resource—including technology resources to help locate Timmothy,” Paris Lewbel, Aurora Police public information officer, wrote in an email. “We have received numerous tips over the years and follow up on each tip that we receive. This remains an active and ongoing missing persons investigation.”
The Rockford Police Department was involved in the case when Amy Fry-Pitzen was first found at the former Rockford Inn. Her death was ruled a suicide.
Rockford police have since turned the investigation over to Aurora and declined to comment on the case.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has released more than 7,000 age-progression photographs since 1989.
The images have helped solve about 50 missing children cases a year since then, including the 2012 break in the Steve Carter case.
Carter was reunited with his family after 30 years when he recognized himself in an age-progressed photograph.
In another case, a boy named Joseph Carson was reunited with his mother after a customer in a Phoenix auto parts store recognized the 9-year-old from an enhanced image on display in the store. He had been missing for five years.
The mystery surrounding Pitzen’s case started on May 11, 2011.
Jim Pitzen dropped his son off at Greenman Elementary School in Aurora. His wife, Amy, took Timmothy out of school later that day.
Police say she took the boy to Brookfield Zoo and KeyLime Cove water park in Gurnee and that the mother and son spent the night in Gurnee before they headed to another water park in Wisconsin the next day.
By the time Fry-Pitzen’s body was found inside a Rockford hotel room, there was no sign of Timmothy Pitzen, police said, just a note saying the boy was safe with people who loved him but that “no one would ever find him.”
In 2019, 23-year-old Brian Michael Rini, of Medina, Ohio, told police in Newport, Kentucky, that he was Timmothy Pitzen and had escaped kidnappers who were holding him hostage at a Red Roof Inn in Sharonville, Ohio.
Investigators from Aurora traveled to Kentucky to verify the man’s identity. The hostage claim did not check out, police said, and a DNA test provided further evidence that the man wasn’t Pitzen.
Police say Rini learned about the Pitzen case from the news and pretended to be the missing boy. He was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated identity theft.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Timmothy Pitzen is asked to call the Aurora Police’s Timmothy Pitzen Tip Line at 630-256-5516 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
Follow Jim Hagerty on Twitter: @jimhagerty.