New York student Ken DeLand Jr. goes missing while studying in France

A 22-year-old college senior from upstate New York has disappeared while studying abroad in France – and his family is asking for help locating him.

Ken DeLand Jr., a student at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, last contacted his parents via WhatsApp on Nov. 27 after leaving his host family’s home to catch a train to Valence, France, according to one Website started by the desperate family.

The last time his phone pinged was November 30th.

“Nevertheless, communication via his phone or other social media has yet to occur as of November 27,” Find Ken DeLand’s website reads.

“Kenny’s bank was made aware of his disappearance and gave police clearance to trace purchases,” she adds.

Missing New York student Ken DeLand Jr.
DeLand Jr. was last contacted by his parents on November 27.

According to bank statements, the young man made a purchase at a store in Montelimar at 9 a.m. on December 3 for $8.40,” the family said.

“We fear the worst and want it located,” they added.

Kenny was in “constant communication” with his family while abroad, his father Kenneth DeLand Sr. told Good Morning America.

“He reached out to me almost every day, sometimes every other day,” his distraught father said.

Family of missing student Ken DeLand
The college senior’s family launched a website to help track him down.
Facebook/Ken DeLand
Ken DeLand Jr., 22, a student at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, has disappeared while studying abroad in France.
Ken DeLand Jr., 22, a student at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, has disappeared while studying abroad in France.

Kenny attended the University of Grenoble Alpes as part of the American Institute for Foreign Study’s study abroad program, ABC News reported.

“AIFS joins others who are concerned for its safety and we are working with local law enforcement who have begun searching. We have been in contact with Kenneth’s family and university and hope for his speedy and safe return,” AIFS told the news channel.

DeLand Sr. said a representative for the program informed the family that Kenny had not attended class, which is unusual.

“Kenny is a friendly, outgoing college student, young man,” he said. “He loves to travel. So this trip was something he was really looking forward to and enjoyed.”

Kenny was last seen with a black backpack and sporting a red jacket, scarf, gray beanie and blue plants.

Surveillance image by Ken DeLand
According to his family, Kenny was caught on surveillance video entering a store.

“If he tries to leave France by train, his passport will ring. We have learned that you can travel by other means without using your passport,” the family said on the website.

“We understand that Kenny is a grown man and the hands of the university and local, national and international police are tied. Neither the US nor the French government can reveal his whereabouts. What we do know is that a missing persons report has been filed,” they said.

The family added that Kenny’s international studies will end on December 17 and his visa will expire on January 20.

Meanwhile, the Clifton Springs congregation attended a prayer vigil for Kenny at the United Methodist Church on Saturday, WHEC reported.

Rev. Brian Fellows said: “We hope his family will benefit because we don’t want their hope to die. I believe wherever he is that all is holy and whatever is holy is with him and it brings him comfort and peace.”

His friend Hunter said he last spoke to him “two or three weeks before he disappeared,” adding that “he’s forgotten how to say ‘heck’ in French, so as a good patron, I gave him the right word .”

St. John Fisher University officials said the school is doing everything it can to help local and foreign authorities with the investigation, which includes the FBI, WHAM reported. New York student Ken DeLand Jr. goes missing while studying in France


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