The missing boy, Timothy Pitzen, was only six years of age when he disappeared on May 11, 2011.
Just like any other day, James dropped him off at school and went to work.
As soon as James heard his son hadn’t even been to school on the day he disappeared, he became frantic.
A Happy Family
James and Amy Fry-Pritzen welcomed their only child, Timmothy, into the world on October 18, 2004.
On the surface, the Pitzens appeared to be a normal family.
In the weeks leading up to Timmothy’s disappearance, James and Amy had been fighting, even though they were happy together.
Trouble In Paradise
The two would argue about everything and nothing at the same time.
James was angry at Amy for taking a birthday trip to the Bahamas without him or Tim. It was her best friend who she took instead.
But when James discovered other men’s text messages on Amy’s phone, things took an ugly turn. The couple almost divorced in 2008 as a result of this.
He Gave Her A Choice
Amy had received an ultimatum from James at that time. Her choice was either to be with their family or to be with the other men.
It was threatened that he would divorce her and take full custody of their son, Timmothy, from her.
Amy did the unthinkable because of that threat.
In the past, Amy had done things that were unsettling.
James was well aware of the differences between the two when they met in Iowa in 2002.
James was seen as just a regular guy who liked to fix up his Jeep and have a beer with friends, while Amy was outgoing and loved to party. They ended up pursuing a long-distance relationship in the end.
She Had Some Problems
After learning that Amy had attempted suicide twice, James grew concerned about her depression.
He received a phone call from a Cedar Rapids hospital when he hadn’t heard from her in a while.
After speaking to Amy herself, he was reassured that she was “all better” and back on her medication. In Amy’s case, the problem was that she didn’t always take her medications, which led to his current situation.
The Day It Happened
The situation James and his family were facing was unknown to him.
After calling into work, he informed them of his late arrival. Arrangements were made for James to drive Tim to kindergarten and drop Amy off at work afterward.
His drop-off at Greenman Elementary on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, would be just before 8 a.m. Amy would be in the passenger seat.
The Last Time
Timmothy waved goodbye to his parents after jumping out of the Jeep. As he was making his way inside, James remembered his son saying, “Love you, Dad.”.
“I also love you, son. I’ll see you in a bit.”
He dropped Amy off at work. Their “I love yous” were exchanged, and James watched her enter the building. It was the last time he would see his family.
A little after 10:30 am, James hopped in his Jeep and drove to Greenman.
The time had come to pick Tim up. After parking, he walked to the reception.
He was met with a puzzled look by one of the teachers when he got to his desk. “Why are you here?” she inquired. Her question baffled James.
Who Took Him?
James was startled when the teacher said, “he left this morning.”
James’ heart began to pound.
“What? Can I see who signed him out?” After hurriedly scanning the check-in and check-out register, James realized Amy had taken Timmothy.
“She claimed that there was an emergency,” said the teacher. James started frantically calling
Amy on her phone, but when he got no answer, he became increasingly concerned.
Concern turned to anger when he kept calling, and he still hadn’t heard back from her. He then left a voice message, “What’s up? Talk to me.” But she still did not call.
Eventually, James ended up going back to work but couldn’t concentrate at all.
He then decided to take the rest of the day off.
He kept thinking about why she had taken Tim from school without notifying him. He was sure something was going on, and it probably was because he didn’t approve of her trip to the Bahamas, he thought.
Not The First Time
He wasn’t entirely wrong. He remembered when Amy would get upset, and she would drive off for a few hours or longer.
She’d go somewhere to clear her head.
This seemed like one of those times, but what was unusual was that she chose to take Tim with her this time. James was running out of patience.
Making More Calls
James managed to calm himself and decided to leave another message. “Hey, I’m not mad anymore. Just tell me what’s going on.”
With his patience wearing thin and the hours ticking by, he decided to call Amy’s sister Kara. “Have you heard from her?” he asked. She hadn’t.
“I’m sure it’s fine,” she told James, knowing all too well about Amy’s penchant for taking off when she felt overwhelmed.
A Call For Help?
Kara’s mind flashed back to a call she had received from Amy only two days earlier.
She seemed to still be upset about the argument she had had with James.
But Kara was in a rush that day and didn’t have time to have a chat with her sister, who was clearly hurting and reaching out for help. Kara never realized that it would be the last time she would hear her sister’s voice.
He Hadn’t Called The Police Yet
James had even resisted calling the police in the hopes that Amy would still get back to him.
But when he looked at all the concerning elements around him, he eventually gave in.
He discovered that Amy had not taken her pills with her and may not have been using them for several days. There were full bottles sitting in the bathroom cabinet, untouched.
Calling The Police
James eventually called the Aurora Police Department that evening.
He knew that it had now become a potentially dangerous case.
“Well, we have to give her a little more time,” an officer told him. “Another 24 hours, to be exact.” James hated the wait, but he understood that maybe Amy and Tim could just be away for the day. Maybe they will be back by tomorrow.
Filing The Missing Persons Report
The next day, James went to work as usual.
He wanted to keep busy and not let his mind wander.
But that wouldn’t be as easy as he hoped it would. James was about halfway through his day when two police officers showed up at his office. And what they had to say would have his mind racing.
Filing The Missing Person’s Report
“Ok, Mr. Pitzen, we’ll just take the missing person’s report,” one of the officers said as he took a seat at James’ desk.
“Do you have a recent picture of the two of them?”
James went home to get a picture from Chuck E. Cheese he had of them. “This is the best I can do.”
The Wait Begins
“It’ll do,” the officer said, tapping the picture against his hand.
“We’ll file this, and if something else happens, we’ll get back to you.”
At that point, all James could do was wait. The police had filed the report and were now working on the case. But would they be able to solve it? Would he ever see his son again?
James was worried sick, especially about Timmothy.
He just hoped and prayed that Amy would contact him soon and that everything would go back to normal.
But things wouldn’t be as simple as he hoped they would. James’ problems had just begun, and he would soon realize just how bad things actually were. Would this ever end?
Then on Friday, the 13th of May, there was a breakthrough.
Amy finally reached out to her mother, who then called, her other daughter, Kara.
What she had to say was not only chilling. It had James praying for a miracle so he could get his son back. But would he be that lucky? Or had things already gone too far?
What She Said
Kara recalled her mother telling her that “everything was fine.
Amy was upset, and she just needed some time alone.”
Kara breathed a sigh of relief. It sounded like Amy would finally be coming back home. But would that really be the case? Or was she just delivering a fake message in order to get the police off her case?
Another Strange Call
But then Amy did something even more puzzling.
Instead of calling James and telling him what he wanted to hear, she called his older brother Chuck.
And what she had to say to him was the complete opposite of what she had told her side of the family. What would Chuck do about the situation?
Concerned, Chuck immediately told Amy to rather call James, as he was terribly worried about his son and had the right to know where his wife and child were.
But Chuck had the fright of his life with Amy’s chilling reply to him.
What did she have to say for herself? And why did it have such a drastic effect on Chuck?
A Disturbing Reply
“Tim is my son, and I can do what I want,” she sneered. Chuck’s blood ran cold, and as soon as he hung up, he called James.
But would this phone call be enough for the desperate father to save his son?
Would he ever see his little boy again? That’s something only time will tell.
James frantically tried calling Amy again. He tried three times, but each time he was met with no response.
He would later learn that she had attempted to call him at one point, but the call didn’t go through.
What did that mean, though? Was there a chance for him to get his wife and child back? Would he ever feel safe near Amy again?
A Knock At The Door
In the early afternoon of Saturday, May 14, there was a knock on James’ front door.
When he opened it, there were two men in suits standing there with grim expressions on their faces.
James didn’t know what to make of the situation, but he was hoping that the men were there to let him know that they had found his son.
“May we please come in?” one of the men asked. James furrowed his brows in confusion.
Who were these men? Were they there to help him or not?
“We’re detectives with the Aurora Police Department,” the other man said before his expression changed. “We have some information regarding your wife.” Had they found her? Or was James just getting his hopes up?
Thank God was all James could think of.
They must’ve finally found Amy and Tim. He hurriedly ushered them in, eager to hear the details they had.
But the news wasn’t what he was expecting. They had, in fact, found Amy, but she wasn’t in the condition he hoped she would be in. What happened to her?
Too Much To Process
“Mr. Pitzen, we found Amy deceased,” the detective said with an apologetic look.
James stared at the two detectives for a moment, trying to understand what he had just heard.
He heard the words, but they just didn’t register. It was just too much for him to comprehend at the time, as his mind was clouded with confusion and fear.
He Couldn’t Believe It
“What do you mean, deceased?” James finally managed to ask.
He simply couldn’t believe it. But what he feared for the most was the well-being of his son. Had Tim been found as well?
The detectives then went on to explain that Amy was found in a Rockford motel. It appeared that she had committed suicide.
Where’s My Son?
James was still trying to make sense of it all when the next thought popped into his head.
“But where’s Tim? Where is my son?” he asked in a voice laced with panic.
The detectives just looked at each other. And that was when James knew that their answer wouldn’t be a good one. What had happened to little Timmothy?
“We don’t know, sir. He wasn’t there. But we’re looking for him,” the detective said.
He was clearly uncomfortable with having to answer the question. But he didn’t have another choice.
James just stood there with a blank expression and a pounding heart. Did that mean his son was alive? Or had his situation just gone from bad to worse?
Filtering Through The Information
His wife Amy was dead, and his son Tim was missing. How was this possible?
How did it all come to this?
“We will give you more information as soon as we get it,” the detective said sympathetically. The other detective then handed James a business card, and the two of them left him to his thoughts.
For hours, James just sat on his couch, processing the information he had received.
Why would Amy do such a thing? And what did she do with Tim? Had he seen it all? Or was he somewhere else?
In the hours that followed, James managed to gather some more information. A few hours after the visit, he learned about the suicide notes that were left behind in the motel room.
What Did They Say?
There was a suicide note addressed to her mother and another to her best friend, who went on the Bahamas trip with her.
The contents of the note to her mother was the one that had the most details in it.
But would it reveal any information about their son? Did she leave any clues behind?
Chilling Last Words
“I’ve taken him somewhere safe,” she wrote in the letter addressed to her mom.
“He will be well cared for, and he says that he loves you. Please know that there is nothing that you could have said or done that would have changed my mind.”
The words sent a chill down James’ spine. Why wouldn’t she just let his son come home? Why did she leave him in the hands of strangers?
Investigating The Information
Investigators pored over the notes for any clues and began reconstructing the last three days of Amy’s life.
There was a ton of work ahead of them. But it would put them on the right track.
While carefully going through every single detail, they were able to find out what had happened. But would that lead them to Tim?
Using cellphone data, surveillance video, and I-Pass records, detectives were able to piece together a 500-mile journey she took Tim on, covering six counties of Illinois and Wisconsin, with stops at two water parks and a zoo.
What did any of that mean?
And would it be able to point the detectives in the right direction? Would they finally be able to bring Tim home?
James was beside himself. He couldn’t believe that Amy would do such a thing.
Where was Tim, and if she said he was in a safe place being taken care of, who had him?
So many thoughts were going through his mind at this point. But none of them managed to put his mind at ease. They were just making him feel worse about this entire ordeal.
The Sight Of His Son
Looking at the surveillance footage and seeing Tim broke his heart.
He was just going along with his mom, not knowing anything bad was going to happen and certainly not knowing he wasn’t going to see his dad again.
The thought was crushing. But what could James do? His son’s life was in the hands of those detectives, and trusting them was the only option he had.
Now twelve years later, James Pitzen still has hope. He believes that his son Timmothy is alive somewhere and that someone has him.
“There have been so many false leads and imposters out there, but I still hold on to the hope that he is alive.”
He received another call from someone in Kentucky claiming to be Tim.
Was It Real?
He said he escaped from kidnappers in Ohio and ran across the bridge for help.
The FBI announced that DNA tests showed the boy was not Timmothy.
But James is not giving up. Speaking to his son, James added: “Timmothy, I love you. I miss you. I want us to be together. We have a lot of catching up to do. I just can’t wait ’til you come home.”
One Can Only Hope
The hope that he would see his son again someday was all that James had left. And even though the FBI proved that the boy wasn’t Timmothy, it felt good to get those words off his chest.
But would he ever be able to say them to his real son? Would he ever see him again?
James hoped he would, and he knew that hope was something that would never die.
Disclaimer: In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.