Police in Kentucky are trying to determine the identity of a teenager who says he is a child who went missing more than seven years ago, and who told officers he fled kidnappers who held him as prisoner all that time.
In 2011, Timmothy Pitzen, 6, was picked up at school by his mother in Illinois, taken to a zoo and a water park, before she killed herself at a hotel, leaving a note in which she said her son was fine but that no one would ever find him.
On Wednesday, a 14-year-old came forward to tell police he was Timmothy. He reportedly told officers he had fled across a bridge in Cincinnati over the Ohio River into Kentucky.
“We’ve probably had thousands of tips of him popping up in different areas,” Aurora police officer Bill Rowley told the Associated Press. “We have no idea what we're driving down there for. It could be Pitzen. It could be a hoax.”
Timmothy Pitzen’s grandmother, Alana Anderson, told WISN-TV on Wednesday that authorities had told the family “very little”.
“We just know a 14-year-old boy was found and went to the police,” Ms Anderson said. “We don't want to get our hopes up and our family's hopes up until we know something. We just don't want to get our hopes up. We’ve had false reports and false hopes before.”
Police in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville wrote in a short incident report that the boy said he had “just escaped from two kidnappers”. He described them as white men with body builder-type physiques. They were in a Ford SUV with Wisconsin license plates and had been staying at a Red Roof Inn.
CBS News said it spoke to the person who dialled the emergency services.
“He said he had escaped,” said the woman who called 911. “He said he was missing from Illinois. That’s what he said.”
The channel said that in May 2011, the boy’s mother picked him up from school in Aurora. Amy Fry-Pitzen then took him on a two-day trip to the Brookfield Zoo, a water park in Gurnee, and final the Wisconsin Dells, where the last known sighting of Timothy was caught on tape.
Two days later, Ms Fry-Pitzen was found dead in a Rockford hotel along with a note saying that her son was safe, but no one would find him.