In 2011, the family of a young Timmothy Pitzen had their hearts broken when the little boy went missing after his mother was found dead.
This week, the news reported that a frightened, injured teenager begged strangers for help, identifying himself as Pitzen.
Hopes ran high that a broken family would be reunited. But now, those hopes have been dashed.
Timmothy Pitzen was just six years old when, security tapes reveal, his mother pulled him out of school one day.
Further surveillance evidence showed her taking him on a road trip that included water parks.
For days, Amy Fry-Pitzen took her son on this unexplained outing while the entire family worried for her and for Timmothy.
It has been speculated that Amy was afraid that, because of her history of mental illness, she would lose Timmothy if she and husband Jim divorced.
Unfortunately, this outing took an especially tragic turn.
On May 13, 2011, Timmothy was last seen alive as his mother checked them out of the Kalahari resort in Wisconsin.
That night, after sundown, Amy was recorded shopping for groceries in Illinois. She was, at that time, alone.
Hours later, she checked herself into a hotel.
A housekeeper found her the next day, dead.
According to police, Amy had self-inflicted cuts on her wrists and even her throat, and her body contained a lethal cocktail of drugs.
Her alleged suicide note begins with a warning: "You will never find him."
The note additionally promised that he was in the care of others who would protect him.
That is ... unimaginably heartbreaking for everyone involved.
Timmothy's disappearance remains a mystery -- and a cold case -- to this day.
But on Wednesday, the world took notice after a young man claiming to be Timmothy Pitzen appeared in Kentucky.
He asked passersby for help.
He had been running and there were visible injuries on his face.
The young man described where he had been held, and claimed that he had been held captive for seven years.
The Pitzen family was cautious, but hopes were running high.
On Thursday evening, FBI Louisville tweeted some grim news.
"DNA results have been returned," the tweet reads. "Indicating the person in question is not Timmothy Pitzen."
People had braced themselves for that news, but most had guessed that he was a teen who had suffered greatly and wanted a home to which to flee.
(That's not okay, but we can understand why a child who has been traumatized might want to "reunite" with a loving home they've never experienced)
But according to multiple reports, the alleged 14-year-old claiming to be Timmothy was not even a teenager.
Apparently, his name is Brian Michael Rini.
He is a native of Ohio and has a troubling history of legal problems and of mental health issues.
Also, the guy is 23 entire years old.
While we're sure that he did not make this claim about his identity lightly, this has put the Pitzen family through hell.
However, there is a silver lining to this heartbreak.
People are once again discussing the Pitzen case.
Both the family and law enforcement experts say that new conversations about cold cases can prompt new leads.