Family of New York student who disappeared while studying abroad in France demands answers

The family of a 22-year-old college student who went missing during a study abroad course in France is desperately searching for information.

Ken DeLand Jr, 22, was last seen at a sporting goods store in Montelimar on December 3. Surveillance cameras at the store caught him going in and making an $8.40 purchase before leaving again.

DeLand is in her final year of studies at St John Fisher University in Rochester, New York, according to The Daily Beast. After joining a study abroad program run by the University of Grenoble Alpes, he was placed in France.

Kenneth DeLand Sr told ABC’s Good Morning America that his son checked in with the family at least every other day, describing him as a “friendly, outgoing college student.”

“He loves to travel. So this trip has been something that he’s really looked forward to and enjoyed,” said Mr. DeLand Sr.

However, despite his constant behavior and checks, Mr. DeLand Jr’s communications with his family ceased on November 27, just a week before his last known sighting.

A school administrator in France was forced to call Mr. DeLand Jr’s mother, Carol Laws, around the same time to inform her that he had filed a missing persons report for the student.

“She said she had to file a missing persons report because she hadn’t been seen in 24 hours,” Laws said.

In a video posted on a website dedicated to finding Mr. DeLand Jr, called “Find Ken DeLand”, Ms. Laws laments her inability to join the search.

“I’m not there. I’m here, thousands of miles away. This can’t be possible. How did he disappear? What happened?” she asks in the video.

The family created the website in the hope that someone with information on their son’s whereabouts would see it and contact him.

In addition to the physical distance between the family and their son’s last known whereabouts, Mr. DeLand Sr. and Ms. Laws have acknowledged that their son is an adult and no agency can be compelled to inform them of his whereabouts.

“We understand that Kenny is an adult, and the University, as well as the hands of local, national and international law enforcement, are tied,” they wrote on the website. “Neither the US nor the French administration can share his whereabouts. What we do know is that a missing person report was filed.”

Mr. DeLand Jr’s classes conclude on December 17 and his visa expires on January 20.

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