American college student missing from French university found in Spain after 3 weeks

Friday, December 16, 2022

Missing American college student Kenny DeLand Jr. has been located in Spain three weeks after he walked away from the University of Grenoble Alpes and apparently stopped communicating with friends and family.

DeLand called his father on Friday after last being heard from Nov. 27, according to the Grenoble prosecutor. The prosecutor's office said DeLand sounded OK, and his family confirmed in a statement he is safe.

"Kenny is in Spain, and Carol (his mom) is in France, preparing to see Kenny and hopefully bring him home for Christmas," DeLand's family said in the statement, which thanked various people including the FBI, American legislators, French officials and the involved schools.

"Without the media's help, Kenny would not have seen himself in the news and reached out to us," the statement added.

A website DeLand's family had launched for information posted Friday that he "has been found."

"THANK YOU to everyone for helping us bring Kenny home!" the message on the website stated.

His family had previously said they last heard from their son on the popular WhatsApp messaging app after he left the home of his host and was headed on a train to Valence, France.

According to his dad, the last time his son's phone had pinged was on Nov. 30. A surveillance camera captured him walking inside a sporting goods store on Dec. 3.

DeLand Jr. was learning French abroad at the University of Grenoble Alpes through the study abroad program American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). In the U.S., he was a senior at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York, his parents said.

Grenoble prosecutor Eric Vaillant said earlier this week that Ken DeLand Jr. was having a hard time while living in France and expressed a desire to leave early.

DeLand Jr. reportedly told several people that he arrived in France "insufficiently prepared" and had a hard time making friends, Vaillant said earlier this week. "He was not feeling well. He himself had mentioned that he wanted to leave earlier by going to Marseille."

He was scheduled to leave France on Dec. 15, according to Vaillant.

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