The Disappearance of Timmothy Pitzen

Timmothy pictured with his parents, James Pitzen and Amy Fry-Pitzen | Source: People Magazine

** This case discusses themes and actions of mental illness and suicide. Reader discretion is advised. **

Timmothy James Pitzen was just your typical six-year-old boy.

Born on October 18, 2004 and raised in Aurora, Illinois, Timmothy was described as a smart, high-energy and fun-loving little boy who loved matchbox cars, riding his bike and cuddling with his cat and dog.

Timmothy was the apple of his parents’ eyes, who brought him into the world just a year after they got married.

His parents, James Pitzen and Amy Fry-Pitzen, met at a party through some mutual friends and really hit it off. Amy was just coming off the heels of her third divorce and was struggling with another bout of severe depression, something that she dealt with almost her entire life.

James offered her the support she needed, and they maintained a long-distance relationship for a year before moving in together and tying the knot.

Unfortunately, things between the couple did not stay happy for long.

They fought for much of their seven-year marriage, over anything big or small. They even came close to divorce in 2008, when James found out that Amy had been talking to and sneaking off to meet one of her ex-husbands. On top of this, Amy was struggling with what felt like her worst bout of depression yet, making the situation even more unstable.

They managed to keep it together enough for Timmothy. To outsiders, they seemed like a happy, loving family with Amy being the picture of motherhood.

In reality, things were deteriorating day by day.

It was an average Wednesday on May 11, 2011. After getting into another fight that morning with his wife, James dropped Timmothy off at his kindergarten class at Greenman Elementary. Timmothy kissed his dad goodbye, told him he loved him and ran to join his classmates.

When James returned later in the day to pick up his son, he discovered that Timmothy had left the school hours ago. He demanded to see the school’s logbook so he could find out who signed him out, and was startled at the name he saw written down.

Amy Fry-Pitzen.

Only thirty minutes after James dropped off Timmothy, at around 8:30 a.m., Amy arrived at the school to pull her son out of class, citing a non-existent family emergency.

Amy then dropped off her car at a local repair shop and, per her request, an employee at the shop took her and Timmothy to the Brookfield Zoo, about 45 minutes from Aurora.

After spending a few hours at the zoo together, the pair returned to the repair shop at around 3:00 p.m. so Amy could retrieve her car. After this, Amy took Timmothy on the hour-and-nine-minute drive to the Key Lime Cove Resort (now the Great Wolf Lodge) in Gurnee, Illinois, a hotel and water park that the family frequented, where they spent the night.

During all of this, James made repeated attempts to get a hold of Amy to try and figure out what was going on, with no luck.

The next day, on May 12, 2011, Amy drove Timmothy to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, over two-and-a-half hours away from Gurnee. There, Amy and her son had another fun-filled day at the indoor waterparks in the resort.

Meanwhile, back home in Aurora, James was frantically trying to get into contact with Amy and had already contacted several of her family members. He also filed a missing person’s report with the Aurora Police Department for both Timmothy and Amy.

Amy and Timmothy captured on surveillance footage checking out of the Kalahari Resort. This is the last-known time he is ever seen again | Source: Aurora Police Department

The next day, on May 13, Amy phoned several people from Sterling, Illinois, a town that was a two-hour-and-45-minute drive from Wisconsin Dells and not too far from Aurora.

One person that Amy called was her mom, Alana Anderson. Amy told her that she and Timmothy were safe and that she just needed some breathing room. She reassured her mom that they would be back in about a day or two.

The next phone call that Amy made was not to James, but to his older brother, Chuck. Much like the conversation with her mom, she also reassured him that everything was great, and that he had nothing to worry about. Chuck could even hear Timmothy talking and playing in the background of the call.

The tone of the conversation changed, however, when Chuck pleaded with Amy to call James so he could hear that Timmothy was okay, that he had a right to know where his wife and son were.

To this, Amy said, “Timmothy is fine. Timmothy is safe. Timmothy belongs to me. Timmothy and I will be fine.”

On May 14, 2011, James received a knock on his door that would turn this case completely around.

Two detectives with the Aurora Police Department informed him that Amy had been discovered dead earlier that afternoon. She had taken her own life in a motel room at the Rockford Inn in Rockford, Illinois, and was discovered at 12:30 p.m. by one of the maids.

There was no sign of Timmothy ever being in the room with her.

Upon further investigation, detectives found the knife Amy used to slash her own wrists and neck. They also discovered that she had overdosed on antihistamines.

While surveying the scene, investigators made a chilling discovery. They found Timmothy’s identification card, the only sign of him in the room. Something that his parents obtained for him when he was little, the card had Timmothy’s picture and fingerprints on it, in case he ever got lost.

They also made another eerie discovery: Amy’s suicide note.

Only ever paraphrased by law enforcement, Amy apologized to motel staff for the shambles she made and the mess that they would have to clean up. She also wrote that Timmothy was safe with people who would look after and care for him, but that he would never be found.

Amy had also written letters that she sent to her mom and her best friend. Amy’s mother read the note in a phone interview with Nancy Grace, revealing the chilling words that haunt the family to this day.

“I’ve taken him somewhere safe,” Amy wrote. “He will be well cared for and he says that he loves you. Please know that there is nothing you could have said or done that would have changed my mind.”

Amy and Timmothy pictured together | Source: Chicago Tribune

As they continued piecing together the events that occurred, police found that the knife Amy used to commit suicide contained only her blood.

However, when investigating Amy’s SUV, law enforcement discovered a “concerning amount of blood” inside that belonged to Timmothy. Family members urged that the blood stains were most likely caused by a nosebleed that Timmothy had suffered in the car earlier that month, and that he was prone to frequent nosebleeds.

They assured detectives that Amy would have never done anything to hurt her son.

Police also found evidence that Amy’s car had been backed into a field and parked in a grassy area close to a highway. It was theorized that the drop-off Amy hinted at in her note occurred there.

They discovered that Amy had actually made two unexplained road trips to Sterling, where Timmothy went missing, in the short months before these events unfolded.

Financial records also showed that Amy had bought Timmothy new clothes and toys during the trip, none of which ever turned up during the investigation.

Despite extensive searches of the area where he went missing and the trail Amy had left behind, there has never been any sign of Timmothy alive or dead.

In 2013, Amy’s missing cellphone was located by Route 78 on the path she would have taken to get to Rockford where she took her own life. This discovery brought hope to the family and to investigators that it would reveal more answers as to where Timmothy was.

Unfortunately, the cellphone turned up no new evidence.

Several sightings of Timmothy have been reported over the years, all of which have turned out to be hoaxes.

Despite the lack of new information in his case, Timmothy’s family has never given up hope of finding him.

James is adamant that Timmothy is still alive. He has theorized that whoever has Timmothy is raising him off the grid, limiting his access to news reports about his own disappearance. He thinks he could be overseas as well, and has done several interviews with international news networks in case this theory is true.

James has also admitted that he gave Amy an ultimatum after he found out about her affair with her ex-husband. He demanded that she pick who she wanted to be with now, and that, if it came down to it, he would fight and do whatever it took to get sole custody of Timmothy, a thought that absolutely terrified Amy.

Police theorized that maybe Amy took his threat seriously and gave Timmothy away to another family to avoid this outcome. Her family supported this, saying that, after James gave her the ultimatum, Amy became extremely frightened of losing custody of her son due to her history of mental illness.

Amy’s sister, Kara Jacobs, also believes the theory that Timmothy is alive and Amy gave him to another family, stating, “I believe to the core of my being that Amy knew what she was going to do to herself, and that she did not want her son to grow up with a legacy of suicide. I think in her way, by giving him to another family, she thought Tim would be loved and cared for by what she would consider a normal loving family and not have to grow up with this stigma.”

Like the family, investigators also believe that Timmothy is still alive and out there somewhere, and they have not closed his case or given up their efforts in finding him and bringing him home.

An age-progressed image of Timmothy, showing what he may look like now at age 16 | Source: NCMEC

Timmothy James Pitzen was last seen on May 12 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. He was wearing green shorts and had a Spiderman backpack on. He has been missing for over 10 years.

If you or someone you know has any information that could lead to the discovery of Timmothy, please contact the Aurora Police Department at 630-256-5216 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-846-5678).

If you or someone you know is struggling with emotional distress and/or thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit their website for more resources.

2 thoughts on “The Disappearance of Timmothy Pitzen

  1. Tragic story of what depression does to people if they don’t seek professional help. Hope he is found alive soon and reunited with his father

    Well written story, keep up the good work of bringing these stories attention again.


  2. Mental health issues need to be taken seriously. It’s a tragedy for all involved. The story was very well written and we need more people to continue keeping cold cases alive. Please continue doing what you are doing Sophie.


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