Timmothy Pitzen; righthand photo age-progressed to 13 years.
Image: Aurora Police Department

A teenage boy identifying himself as Timmothy Pitzen, who went missing in 2011 at the age of 6, told police in Ohio he escaped kidnappers who have been holding him for seven years.

Pitzen’s disappearance made headlines after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, picked him up from school in Aurora, Illinois on May 11, 2011, taking him on a three-day trip before she was found dead from suicide in a motel room. Her son, Timmothy, was gone when investigators arrived; notes she left behind said he was safe, but would not be found.

Now, a boy claiming to be Pitzen said he escaped his kidnappers from a Red Roof Inn hotel by fleeing across a bridge over the Ohio River into Kentucky. According to the Chicago Tribune,

Two detectives made the five-hour drive to the Cincinnati area Wednesday to talk to the boy, Aurora police Sgt. Bill Rowley said.

“We have no idea if this is Timmothy Pitzen,” Rowley said. “We don’t know if it’s a hoax. Obviously, everyone’s hopeful, but we have to be super judicious.”

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Ohio police said the teenager described his kidnappers as two white men of “bodybuilder type build, one with a spiderweb tattoo on his neck and the other with a snake tattoo on his arms.”

The FBI is currently in the process of conducting DNA tests to identify the teenager, a process that will take around 24 hours.

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Residents of Newport, Kentucky, who saw the boy initially thought he was a “suspicious person,” until they saw bruising hidden by his sweatshirt and realized he was scared, WCPO Cincinnati reports.

“We were nervous,” witness Crekasafra Night told the station. “We didn’t know if somebody had jumped him or they were going to come back, because all he did was pace. He leaned up against the car. He didn’t go anywhere until the police came.”