"I knew he wasn't from here...he just looked out of place," Sharon Hall tells PEOPLE

By Chris Harris
April 04, 2019 03:36 PM
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The children of Newport, Kentucky, are on spring break this week — so on Wednesday morning, when Sharon Hall spotted a scrawny teen in a hooded sweatshirt loitering outside her home at 7:30 a.m., she thought something wasn’t right.

“My first thought was, ‘He’s not from around here,'” Hall tells PEOPLE, noting the boy seemed in a daze and she was worried he might try to break into her neighbor’s car. Instead, the boy was looking for help.

He approached a Nissan Murano, idling on Columbia Street at the corner of West Eighth Street, and spoke to the 17-year-old driver behind the wheel, who was about to take the kids in the backseat to daycare.

“Can you help me?” the boy asked, identifying himself as Timmothy Pitzen, who went missing in 2011 when he was six years old. He even provided the woman with his middle name. “I just want to get home,” he continued. “Can you just please help me?”

Police were called to the neighborhood of brick, two-family homes that date back to the 1960s, and two officers showed up to speak with the boy, Hall explains.

“I knew he wasn’t from here…he just looked out of place,” Hall says.

“When the police pushed his hood back, his face was dirty,” she recalls. Crekasafra Night, who lives next door to Hall, also noticed that when police removed the boy’s hat, his dark hair was matted.

Night and Hall say they spoke to the boy before police arrived, and he told them he’d escaped two men who were holding him captive.

Night says the boy told her he crossed a bridge into Kentucky from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he’d been staying with the two men at a Red Roof Inn.

“He told us he had been running for two hours,” Night tells PEOPLE, adding the boy had bruises about his face and appeared malnourished. “He looked like he’d been punched.”

Timmothy-Pitzen-4

At this point, the boy’s identity has not been confirmed. The results of DNA testing are expected back today.

A report from police in Sharonville, Ohio, states the boy also told responding officers he was Timmothy Pitzen and was being held by two men.

“Timmothy described the two kidnappers as two male, whites, body-builder type build,” reads the report. “One had black curly hair, Mt. Dew shirt and jeans, and has a spider web tattoo on his neck. The other was short in stature and had a snake tattoo on his arms.”

The boy reportedly told police he escaped the men and ran across the Central Bridge in Kentucky. The boy also told police the types of car the men were driving, and told them it has Wisconsin license plates.

Hall tells PEOPLE the boy in her neighborhood Wednesday morning looked more like the picture of Pitzen at 6 than the age-progressed image released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Timmothy PitzenCredit: National Center for Missing or Exploited Children
Timmothy Pitzen (left) and an age-progressed photo of him
| Credit: National Center for Missing or Exploited Children (2)

Timmothy was last seen at a water park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, with his mother. He would be 14 now.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed they are working with authorities from Aurora, Illinois, on a missing child case. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Timmothy is the only missing child from Aurora.

In a statement to PEOPLE Thursday, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said, “With details still emerging about the possible recovery of Timmothy Pitzen, we remain hopeful. Here at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we never give up our search for a missing child. We ask that you keep Timmothy and all missing children in your thoughts.”

Timmothy’s mother, Amy, 42, picked up her son from his elementary school on May 11, 2011. Three days later, she was found dead in a motel room in Rockford, Illinois, with self-inflicted slashes on her neck and wrists.

Nearby was what police characterized as a suicide note. In it, Amy wrote that Timmothy was “safe” with others who would love and care for him.

She added, “You will never find him.”

Aurora Police Public Information Officer Bill Rowley confirms to FOX19 two police detectives are en route to assist with the investigation.

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The boy’s father, Jim Pitzen, has vowed not to rest until Timmothy — who he described to PEOPLE in 2015 as “a little mini-me” — was found safe.

Alana Anderson and Kara Jacobs — Amy Pitzen’s mother and sister — have declined PEOPLE’s request for comment at this time.