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Ken DeLand missing: Timeline of American college student’s disappearance while studying abroad in France

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Dec 14, 2022

Ken “Kenny” DeLand – an American college student studying abroad in France – has been missing for more than two weeks. His parents, based in upstate New York, have launched a media blitz in appealing for information that might lead to his return before Christmas while also fielding tips through findkendeland.com.

A French prosecutor has joined the case, and the U.S. Department of State and U.S. embassy in Paris said they are assisting local authorities in locating the 22-year-old who hasn’t reported to classes at the University of Grenoble Alpes since Nov. 28. DeLand, enrolled at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, N.Y., was an Eagle Scout and took French courses throughout middle and high school – though wasn’t fluent in the language. 

He also previously interned at a New York state senator’s office and has aspirations of becoming a lawyer.

His parents said it’s out of character for him not to contact home. They say local, national and international authorities – including the universities and AIFS Abroad – have been reluctant to share private information – even with his own family — about Kenny’s whereabouts because he is an adult. 

KEN DELAND DISAPPEARANCE IN FRANCE SHINES LIGHT ON EUROPE’S ‘ABOLISHED’ BORDERS TRAVEL ZONE 

Here’s a timeline of the events leading up to his disappearance and what’s known so far. 

Oct. 28 – Kenny shares a photo to Facebook of Nikola – Tesla Airport, saying he had a stopover in Serbia that day. 

His father, also Ken DeLand, told Fox News Digital his son traveled throughout Europe – as is common of study abroad students – while on break from the University of Grenoble Alpes to visit Italy. 

Kenny shared photos on social media from Rome, Naples and Florence. 

Nov. 18 – Kenny shares a selfie on Facebook with a rainbow view above the Eiffel Tower in Paris. His Facebook page also shows photo dumps of other travels through France, as well as a cooking class he took while abroad. 

Nov. 27 – Kenny last spoke with his father, also named Ken DeLand, and mother, Carol Laws, by WhatsApp. The family believes he also spoke with his French host family in Grenoble that day. 

Nov. 28 – Kenny attended classes at the University of Grenoble Alpes. Those who saw him said he seemed “normal and happy,” according to the family website. He also spoke with his host family that day. 

Nov. 29 – University officials filed missing persons report with French officials and informed Kenny’s parents of his disappearance. Kenny did not attend classes and hadn’t been seen by his friends or his French host family. 

“Initially, Ken struggled to fit in and make friends abroad,” the family website says. “However, he continued to remain positive and made great connections. It is vital to note Ken has friends in France, and they are the ones who initially reported him missing to the school and continue to show support and check in for updates on Ken. We all have the same mission: wanting Ken to return safely.”

The DeLand family later learned Kenny had breakfast, made a sandwich, and packed it in a small bag with a change of clothing, his wallet, and his cell phone. Ken left all his belongings at his host family’s home, including his computer, tablet, train pass, and phone charger. He also spoke with a neighbor before leaving. 

“Ken had a conversation with his neighbor outside the host’s house, which was said to have been positive. The neighbor said Ken seemed in bright spirits and excited for the day,” the family website says. “We are unaware of the entire discussion or if the neighbor was informed if Ken was planning to travel.”

A national police report from France’s Interior Ministry – obtained and translated by Fox News – establishes the “concrete disturbing facts” considered “mandatory for a proper investigation.” The report, dated Nov. 29, describes DeLand as an American student who “does not speak French well.” 

It also notes DeLand, described as having short blond hair, blue eyes, and having light beige and blonde beard and mustache, as being in a “fragile mood” and “may be depressed.”

Nov. 30 – Kenny’s phone last pinged at the Valence train station at 7 p.m. CEST. That’s about a two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Grenoble. His phone has had zero activity since this date. 

Dec. 3 — According to his bank statements, Kenny made a purchase at Decathlon Sporting Goods store in Montelimar, France, at 2:45 pm CEST for $8.40. Surveillance video also showed Kenny entering the store around that time. He was wearing a red jacket, scarf, grey beanie, blue jeans/slacks and sneakers and carrying a black backpack. He is about 6 feet tall and weighs roughly 190 pounds.

Kenny’s study abroad program ends Dec. 17, and his visa will expire on Jan. 20, 2023. He reportedly told friends in the United States and France that he wished to travel to Marseilles before coming home.

If he attempts to leave France via train, his passport will ping, according to the family resident. 

However, DeLand’s family, also Ken DeLand, told Fox News Digital the family learned Kenny could have left France undetected — possibly through the “abolished” border Schengen zone, which does not require travelers to present identification. It’s unclear, though, if Kenny has pursued that route. 

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