The college senior from upstate New York who went missing while studying abroad in France had said he was struggling to make friends and felt “insufficiently prepared” for life in Europe.
Ken DeLand Jr., a student at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, last contacted his parents on Nov. 27 via WhatsApp after leaving his host family’s home for a train to Valence, France. His phone hasn’t been pinged since Nov. 30, police said.
DeLand had been attending the University of Grenoble Alpes, but was struggling with the adjustment, a prosecutor in Grenoble who is looking into the case told local French media.
The 22-year-old lamented that he was “insufficiently prepared” to live in France and didn’t have friends, the official said.
“Initially, Ken struggled to fit in and make friends abroad,” his family wrote on a website dedicated to finding him.
The prosecutor’s office said in their statement that DeLand “appears to have left Grenoble voluntarily.
“He also mentioned that he wanted to go to Marseille before returning to the United States.”
DeLand was last seen carrying a black backpack and wearing a red jacket, scarf, gray beanie and blue plants. His bank statement shows he made a purchase at a sports store on Dec. 3 in the southeastern city of Montelimar for $8.40. It is unclear what he purchased, but no one has hear from him in over a week since.
“We fear the worst and want him to be located,” his family said.
Through the website set up by his family, there have been a number of tips which have come in, according to his dad, DeLand snr, who added to CNN he has passed them on to the FBI.
“I’m hoping that Interpol has gotten involved, and we’ve been interviewed by several news media stations and we’re hoping we can, with your help and the help of others, we can get the word out there,” he told the news channel.