ROCHESTER, N.Y. (PIX11) — The father of Kenny DeLand, the 22-year-old New York college student who went missing during a semester abroad in France, said Monday night that his son was set to graduate in May with a dual major in psychology and pre-law.
“He’s a good student. He enjoyed school,” Kenneth DeLand, Sr. told PIX11 News. “So this is very puzzling to us.”
The disappearance has now garnered international headlines, and CNN reported early Tuesday a French prosecutor is investigating the case.
“I’ve contacted the U.S. Embassy in Paris,” the father shared. “They can’t divulge any status.”
DeLand’s father said his son, a student at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, last contacted him through WhatsApp on Nov. 27.
Fellow students at the University of Grenoble Alpes in eastern France reported DeLand Jr. missing when he didn’t show up for classes on Nov. 29.
“There’s been no contact, except for a ping on his phone at a Valence, France train station on Wednesday, Nov. 30,” the father said.
But the young man was captured on surveillance cameras at a Decathlon store in Montelimar, France on Dec. 3, wearing a red coat and gray knit hat. His debit card was used to make a purchase of $8.40.
“If there’s other surveillance footage, we’re not aware of it,” DeLand’s father said.
CNN reported Tuesday that the French prosecutor issued a statement saying, “The young man reportedly told several people that he had arrived in France underprepared and was having difficulty making friends.”
The prosecutor thinks DeLand, Jr. may have left Grenoble voluntarily.
DeLand’s father said his son had enjoyed traveling to Italy during a break in studies, visiting Rome, Naples, and Florence.
The dad is frustrated about certain laws in France that prevent him from getting more information.
“The biggest hurdle we’ve encountered is the privacy act,” the father said. “They can’t divulge information on anyone 16 or older.”
The family has launched a website, FindKenDeLand.com.
The dad told PIX11 News his son went to France in August for the semester abroad and was staying with a host family. The program was set to end Dec. 17 and Kenny DeLand, Jr. was supposed to return home to the United States.
The missing man’s father said he hopes the attention given to Kenny’s disappearance will help find his son.
“I hope the exposure helps bring him back for Christmas,” the dad said.