College Student Goes Missing While Studying Abroad in France, Family Says They 'Fear the Worst'

Ken DeLand Jr.’s family says they last heard from him on Nov. 27, and that they were in “constant communication” with him until then

The family of an American college student is seeking answers after their son, a senior at St. John Fisher University, went missing last month while studying abroad in France.

Ken DeLand Jr.'s parents say they last heard from their 22-year-old son on Nov. 27, according to a website they launched to help find him.

The student was in "constant communication" with his family during his time at the University Grenoble Alpes, his father, Kenneth DeLand, told ABC News. "He would reach out to me almost daily, sometimes every other day," he told the outlet.

"It's not characteristic of Kenny to not reach out to us and let us know what's going on," his father added during an interview with Good Morning America, which aired Monday.

KEN DELAND/. Credit:
Ken DeLand Jr.

DeLand Jr.'s parents said on their website that when they last heard from their son via WhatsApp on Nov. 27, "apparently, he had left his host family's residence and boarded the train headed for Valence, France."

The last time they got a ping from his phone was on Nov. 30. Days later, he made an $8.40 purchase at a store in Montelimar, which is also in Southeastern France, on the morning of Dec. 3 at 9 a.m., they shared on the website, alongside a surveillance photo.

KEN DELAND/. Credit:
Ken DeLand Jr.

"We fear the worst and want him to be located," they added.

They say his study abroad program was scheduled to end on Dec. 17, and that his visa will expire in January.

An investigation was opened by authorities in Grenoble after students made a report on Nov. 29 about the "worrying disappearance" of a student, according to a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Grenoble's public prosecutor said in a statement that the young man reportedly "told several people that he arrived in France insufficiently prepared and had difficulty making friends."

In the statement, authorities said he appeared to have "left Grenoble voluntarily" and said he had "mentioned that he wanted to go to Marseille before returning to the United States."

RELATED VIDEO: Teen Who Vanished While Working on Science Project Found Dead in Remote Calif. Woods: 'Devastating News'

Speaking with ABC News, the student's father said his son loves travel and that his time abroad "has been something that he's really looked forward to and enjoyed."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

In a statement, a spokesperson for St. John Fisher University, which is located in Rochester, N.Y., said the community "remains hopeful that Kenneth will be found safe and return home."

"St. John Fisher University will continue to do all it can to assist in the investigation to find Kenneth DeLand," they said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

"University officials have stayed in close contact with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) who is working with local law enforcement on the search, as well as Kenneth's family to offer support to them during this time," they added.

In an interview with Good Morning America, DeLand Jr.'s mother said she still messages him everyday, pleading with him to get in contact with them.

"We love you, we are waiting to hear from you and we want you to come home," they told ABC affiliate WHAM-TV.

KEN DELAND/. Credit:
Ken DeLand Jr.

DeLand Jr.'s family said on their website that since their son has been reported missing in France, should he attempt to leave the country by train, "his passport will ping."

According to his family, he was last seen wearing a red jacket, a grey beanie, blue pants, a scarf and sneakers and was carrying a black backpack.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the family through their website.

Related Articles