Aurora police: Pitzen boy's disappearance may have been planned for months
By Matt Hanley and Dan Campana firstname.lastname@example.org August 25, 2011 5:32PM
Timmothy Pitzen. | photo released by Aurora police
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Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000 for information that helps police find 6-year-old Timmothy Pitzen of Aurora. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Timmothy should call their local police or Aurora investigators at 630-256-5500. CrimeStoppers callers can remain anonymous by calling 630-892-1000.
Timothy is 4-foot-2, about 70 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing shorts, a brown T-shirt and white socks. His mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, was 5-foot-10, 180 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. To see other pictures of Timmothy, go to www.beaconnewsonline.com or www.aurora-il.org.
Updated: November 27, 2011 1:22PM
It was unusual but not necessarily suspicious at the time.
A family was eating at an IHOP restaurant near the Wisconsin Dells. The man sitting in the booth across from them said he had forgotten his wallet and needed to run out to the car. Would they mind keeping an eye on his son, Tim, while he grabbed it?
The dad left his license and son, ran to the car, then returned a few minutes later to pay the bill.
Not long after that, the family came across a report about Timmothy Pitzen, the 6-year-old Aurora boy who has been missing since his mother pulled him out of school on May 11. Timmothy’s face looked familiar. Was it the same boy they had seen the other day?
The family called local police, who routed the report to Aurora police. The call became one of dozens of possible sightings that have come in since Timmothy’s mother committed suicide three days after taking him out of school.
“Obviously whenever there’s a kid missing, and a mother committing suicide, people want to get involved,” Aurora Police Sgt. Robb Wallers said. “We got flooded with phone calls. We take every one of those seriously, especially given the situation.”
People have reported possible sightings of Timmothy Pitzen in grocery stores, hotels and parking lots in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Ohio. So far, none of the tips have led police to Timmothy or helped them figure out whether he’s dead or alive.
Search warrant: Mom planned for months
On March 11, Amy Fry-Pitzen took her only son out of Greenman Elementary School in Aurora early on the school day. Without telling any family members, Timmothy and Amy went on a three-day, 500-mile road trip, stopping at zoos and water parks. On the third day, Amy finally called family to report that she was fine. Timmothy was heard in the background. Police found her body and a suicide note the next morning. Timmothy has not been found.
Three search warrants made public this week only deepen the mystery surrounding the case. In the warrants, Aurora police were seeking Amy’s e-mail records between Jan. 1 and May 14 and her phone records from 60 days before she went missing.
According to the warrant, FBI profilers told police that Amy likely planned her actions for months before she pulled Timmothy out of school. Police previously said that months before his disappearance, Timmothy’s mother took two unexplained trips to the area where her son would later go missing.
Court records show that Yahoo! turned over 34 e-mails and the log-in history for Amy’s e-mail account. According to an affidavit filed in the warrant, Pitzen had an account which her husband had access to, as well as one that she kept secret from him. The account was created in 2007 under “Amy Fry,” according to court records.
Court documents also show that police received records for Amy’s cell phone, which had Internet capabilities and had been used extensively in the days before she took Timmothy out of school. The phone has not been found, police said.
The warrant does not reveal what was in those e-mails or phone records, but police have previously said that they retrieved no useful information from either.
Dozens of tips
When Timmothy’s father — Amy’s husband — reported them missing, their names immediately went into a database that notified police departments nationwide. Any contact that a police officer had with Amy, Timmothy or Amy’s car would immediately identify them as reported missing.
When Amy’s body was found the story became nationwide news. In the last three months, police have gotten about 40 tips, including possible sightings.
While no one believes Timmothy is in Aurora, Aurora police remain the lead agency and Aurora officers have checked every tip. Two detectives, Lee Catavu and Trent Byrne, are the lead investigators on the case. While it is not the only case they’re working on, Wallers, their supervising officer, said the Pitzen case is a priority. Wallers estimated Aurora police have spent thousands of hours on the Pitzen case in the last three months.
Whenever a possible sighting is reported, officers immediately try to determine whether there is surveillance video of the child. In some cases, they’ve been able to get local police departments to send over video. They check the boy’s height, build and facial characteristics against Timmothy’s.
“We have so many photos and video of him now, we’re pretty much able to tell whether it’s him or not,” Wallers said.
Officers have also traveled to the locations to talk to witnesses and show them pictures of Timmothy.
Police encourage anyone who thinks they might have seen Timmothy — or any other missing person — to call the local police department as soon as possible. Local police will be able to respond most quickly. A description of the child is important, but even better are concrete details like license plates or names.
Some of the possible sightings have only had vague details and were called in days after the event. In that situation, there’s little officers can do for verification. But police say it is still important to call because officers can spread fliers in the area.
One more false lead
Aurora officers drove to the Wisconsin IHOP with pictures of Timmothy Pitzen. After looking at the photos, both the customers who called in the tip and the restaurant manager said they didn’t think the Tim they saw was Timmothy Pitzen. Video footage viewed by Aurora police confirmed it.
It was another false trail in a case with few leads. Aurora police have had missing persons cases before — some that dragged on for years. But no one in the department can remember such a young child missing under such dire circumstances.
“This is a whole different ballgame. It’s completely different than anything else I’ve ever handled,” Wallers said. “It’s a tough thing to grasp that there’s this kid out there and nobody knows where he is and if he’s OK.”
“We don’t really have a lot to work with,” he said. “Everything we’ve check into hasn’t been fruitful.”