She was a high school drop-out who ran away from home, going to live with relatives in Iowa. That’s where she met George Wiltsey, got pregnant and gave birth to her son. The relationship did not last and Lodzinksi moved back to New Jersey six months after Timothy’s birth.
Neighbors who spoke to reporters and investigators in the days and weeks after Timothy’s disappearance couldn’t agree on whether she was either a doting or careless mother. She had trouble holding down jobs, but refused to go on welfare. She relied on her father for money and managed to pay tuition for Timothy to go to pre-kindergarten at a Catholic school
Investigators also heard that she was “a party girl” who liked to dress “fashionably.” She often left Timothy in the care of neighbors so that she could stay out late. She dated many men, but she was a single mother and her relationships didn’t last long. The boyfriends, neighbors said, did not seem interested in becoming fathers.
What is Timothy Wiltsey Cause of Death
One of the great unknowns in this case is just how Timothy Wiltsey died. By the time the FBI and police found Timothy’s scattered remains — a skull and bone pieces of his jaw, arms and legs – he already had been dead for months, his body submerged in water.
The county medical examiner in 1992 ruled the cause of death unknown, but the manner was homicide.
Because the original examiner has since died, prosecutors reached out to retired state medical examiner Geetha Ann Natarajan to review the case and issue her own report. She reached the same conclusions.
Natarajan doubted Timothy’s death could have been accidental, as Lodzinski’s attorney suggested during a pre-trial hearing last year, because nobody called 911 and an accident doesn’t explain why his remains ended up in a creek in a desolate swamp behind an industrial park six miles from home.
Michelle Lodzinski History
May 25, 1991 ► The search for Timmy
Michelle Lodzinski, a 23-year-old single mother from South Amboy, reports her son Timothy Wiltsey, 5, missing from a Memorial Day weekend carnival at John F. Kennedy Park in Sayreville.
A massive manhunt ensues, lasting days and involving hundreds and hundreds of law-enforcement officials and volunteers.
The case makes an indelible impression on parents and young children who decades later would remember the fear and anxiety they felt following the case on the news and in their neighborhoods.
May 30, 1991 ► Cloud of suspicion
Not only are authorities suspecting that Lodzinski may be behind her son’s disappearance, but that suspicion is growing in the public as well. People wonder why Lodzinski doesn’t appear to show any emotion when she’s on the news.
“It just doesn’t seem right,” one search volunteer tells the Home News days after the disappearance. “Why isn’t she talking? What is she hiding?”
But Lodzinski does talk. She gives an interview to the Home News explaining she is not one to show a lot of emotion.
“I’m not trying to hide anything,” she says. “Whoever has him, wherever he is, I just want him back.”
May 31, 1991 ► National headlines
The Timothy Wiltsey missing-person case appears on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” for the first time.
Timothy’s face also would appear on milk cartons and New York Yankee Don Mattingly would plead for his safe return.
Oct. 26, 1991 ► A breakthrough
A birdwatcher spots a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sneaker in the marshlands of the industrial Raritan Center in Edison. Timothy had been reported wearing such sneakers the day he went missing. Investigators conduct a search on Nov. 26, but find nothing.
April 23, 1992 ► A grisly discovery
The FBI, State Police and Sayreville police descend on Raritan Center, the spot where a little boy’s shoe had been found six months earlier, and quickly find the matching sneaker. About a 100 yards away, they also find a skull, leg and arm bones, part of a pelvis and a lower jaw.
An FBI agent orders the search after Lodzinski’s mother told him that her daughter had once worked at Raritan Center.
Jan. 21, 1994 ► The kidnapping hoax
Lodzinski’s family calls police to report her missing from her brother’s Woodbridge home after finding her car open and running.
March 1995 ► House arrest
In March 1995 she is sentenced to six months of house arrest and counseling for the hoax.
December 1997 ► The computer theft
Lodzinski pleads guilty to stealing a laptop computer from a former employer in order to give it as a gift to her boyfriend, the Union County cop. It was the cop who had discovered it was stolen.
A judge sentences a pregnant Lodzinski to a day in jail for violating the terms of probation from her kidnapping hoax sentencing. The judge also allows her to leave the state.
2003 ► She moves to Florida
Lodzinski marries in Minnesota in 2001 and has a son. The marriage doesn’t last and in 2003 she moves to Florida, pregnant with her second son, and buys a home.
Lodzinski settles in Port St. Lucie, Florida, working as a paralegal for a law firm. She doesn’t change her name but manages to live in virtual anonymity in her new community even as law local law enforcement keep tabs on her and investigators back in New Jersey keep the case alive, hoping for a new breakthrough.
Aug. 6, 2014 ► Charged with murder
More than two decades after the disappearance and death of little Timmy, Lodzinski is charged in her son’s murder.
Lodzinski is held on $2 million bail and is sent to New Jersey the following month to await trial.
February 2016 ► Lodzinski trial begins with jury selection
Lodzinski’s murder trial begins in the New Brunswick courtroom of Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves.