AURORA, Ill. - Officials released a new age-progression image showing what missing Aurora child Timmothy Pitzen may look like today.
Released by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the image comes a decade after the then 6-year-old boy vanished from the western suburb.
"It’s hard to believe that we have been searching for Timmothy for ten long years now," said Timmothy’s father, Jim Pitzen. "We believe he is out there and we hope every day that he will make his way home."
Timmothy's mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, took her son out of his kindergarten class on May 11, 2011, saying something about a family emergency.
Wearing his backpack, Timmothy waved to his classmates, saying "See you tomorrow," teacher Cheryl Broach recalled.
The two climbed into Fry-Pitzen's SUV and went on an adventure that included a visit to the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago, a suburban Chicago resort and another resort in the Wisconsin Dells, a region that calls itself the "Waterpark Capital of the World."
The next day, according to video footage released later by police, the boy and his mother were seen leaving the Kalahari Resorts in the Dells. That was the last time the two were seen together. When Fry-Pitzen checked into a motel in Rockford, Illinois, about 120 miles away, on May 13, she was alone, according to police.
The next afternoon, her body turned up but with no sign of her son. A note she left said the boy was being cared for by someone who loved him in a place where he would never be found.
Father Jim Pitzen says he has never given up hope of finding his son.
"I know he's out there, I know he wants to come home. I know he misses me, so it's just I know in my heart he's there and eventually he'll find me or I'll find him," he said.
The mysterious case has gripped the Chicago area and beyond, even getting nationwide attention. Aurora police say they keep working it as an active case.
"I believe we're going to go until we find him, regardless of what that means, whether he's alive or deceased, we owe that to the family to investigate until we find him," Aurora Lieutenant Greg Spayth said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Aurora police say the unknown haunts those working this case. The hope is to generate new solid leads with the newly released picture.
Jim Pitzen says he has a lot of hope that Timmothy will be found.
"I mean, it's going to happen sooner than later, or later than sooner, one of these days it's going happen and he'll come home," he said.
Anyone who may have information is asked to call The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or the Aurora Police Department’s Timmothy Pitzen Tip Line at (630) 256-5516.
In 2019, a young man found wandering the streets of a Kentucky town told police his name was Timmothy Pitzen.
DNA tests revealed that person was not Timmothy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.