Nearly a decade ago, Timmothy Pitzen and his mother went on a road trip that included stops at a zoo and a water park. Their adventure started after Amy Fry-Pitzen checked her 6-year-old son out of an Illinois elementary school on May 11, 2011.
Three days later, the mother's body was found in a hotel room in Rockford, Illinois. She had died by suicide, leaving behind a note that said her son was with people who love him.
"You'll never find him," the note said.
Anxious boy identified himself as Timmothy
Police and the FBI are investigating whether a teen found wandering in Kentucky on Wednesday is Timmothy.
Sharon Hall told CNN she noticed a "fidgety" boy near a car in her Newport neighborhood. The neighbor's daughter called the police after the boy told them he'd ran for two hours and his stomach hurt.
When authorities arrived, he told them his name was Timmothy Pitzen, 14, and he'd ran away from two men who kept him captive for seven years, most recently at a nearby Red Roof Inn, according to a police report.
He said he just wanted to get home
People who talked to him before police arrived said he was anxious and pleaded for help.
"He walked up to my car and he went, 'Can you help me?'" a 911 caller told dispatchers, according to the affiliate. "'I just want to get home. Please help me.' I asked him what's going on, and he tells me he's been kidnapped and he's been traded through all these people and he just wanted to go home."
It was unclear what city he'd escaped from before arriving in Newport. Police agencies in the area checked nearby Red Roof Inn hotels and did not find anything, according to the report.
In a Facebook post, the Sharonville Police Department near Cincinnati said it helped check local hotels for the suspects, but its officers had no contact with Timmothy.
"All information that we obtained is from Campbell County, Kentucky," it said in a statement.
Sharonville, Ohio, is about 20 miles from Newport, Kentucky.
He was last seen at a water park in Wisconsin
The teen described his kidnappers as two men of "bodybuilder type build." One had a spiderweb tattoo on his neck and the other had a snake tattoo on his arms, the report said.
The men drove a Ford SUV with Wisconsin plates, according to the police. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has said that Timmothy was last seen at a water park in Wisconsin.
The FBI and local police are investigating to determine whether the boy found Wednesday is Timmothy. Police in his Illinois hometown of Aurora said DNA results will take about 24 hours.
The family searched desperately for years
For years, Timmothy's family has searched for him in several states.
"I have one image. It's the day I dropped him off at school and he's off -- running off to class -- and that's pretty much the last image I have in my mind of him," Timmothy's father, Jim Pitzen, told CNN in 2015.
The day before his mother killed herself, she made several calls from an unknown location to family members, including her mother. She assured them that Timmothy was safe.
Over the years, family members have said the mother had a history of depression, and her marriage was failing. Her biggest fear was that a judge would take her son away because of her mental health issues, according to relatives.
Security video footage from their stops showed a relaxed and beaming mother and son on what appeared to be a fun adventure.