Police investigate American student’s ‘disturbing disappearance’ in France

The family of an American college student is pleading for help after he disappeared while studying abroad in France.

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Kenny Deland Jr. is a senior at St. John Fisher University and was in France studying at the University of Grenoble Alpes, his family told CNN.

Deland last spoke to his family via WhatsApp on Nov. 27 before leaving his host family’s home and getting on a train, the family said in a website that is dedicated to their search. Kenny’s father described their last conversation as normal.

“We were just exchanging how he was doing, he has been traveling, he has been having a great time in France,” Kenneth Deland Sr. told WHAM. “We just shake our heads, we don’t understand why he is not reaching out to us, if he was reaching out to us on a daily basis, or every other day, like he was — it is just not characteristic of Kenny.”

Bank statements show Kenny last made a purchase on Dec. 3 at a store in Montelimar for $8.40, his family said. A surveillance photo shared on the family’s website shows Kenny in the store, wearing a red jacket and blue jeans and carrying a black backpack.

Grenoble’s public prosecutor said it had opened an investigation into “the disturbing disappearance of a 21-year-old American student who had come to Grenoble to study French,” NBC News reported. Prosecutors said that it appeared Deland left Grenoble voluntarily and noted that he had mentioned wanting to go to Marseille before returning to the United States.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and St. John Fisher University are supporting the search efforts, WHAM reported.

“University officials have stayed in close contact with the American Institute for Foreign Study, who is working with local law enforcement on the search, as well as Kenneth’s family to offer support to them during this time,” St. John Fisher University said to CNN in a statement. “Our campus community remains hopeful that Kenneth will be found safe and return home.”

Kenny’s school program is scheduled to end Dec. 17, and his international visa expires Jan. 20, 2023.

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