Ken DeLand: American college student missing in France had trouble making friends, may have left voluntarily

The American college student who went missing while studying abroad in France was “insufficiently prepared” for life overseas and may have left voluntarily, according to a French prosecutor.

Ken DeLand Jr., a senior at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York, last contacted his parents on Nov. 27 on the WhatsApp messaging app after he left the home of his host family to catch a train to Valence, France. His phone was last pinged on Nov. 30.

Grenoble prosecutor Eric Vaillant said in a statement to French media that DeLand seems to have left the city voluntarily after having trouble making friends.

The 22-year-old student was learning French at the University of Grenoble Alpes.


Vaillant said DeLand had expressed a desire to leave early for the city of Marseille before returning home to the U.S. He was scheduled to leave France on Dec. 15.

DeLand’s family launched a website in the hopes of receiving tips about where he might be.

“Initially, Ken struggled to fit in and make friends abroad,” the family wrote. “However, he continued to remain positive and made great connections. We learned that he told friends in the United States and France that he wished to travel to Marseille before coming home.”

The website said DeLand was last seen wearing a red jacket, scarf, grey beanie, blue pants, a black backpack and sneakers.

The family said he is about 6 feet tall and 190 pounds. T