A prosecutor in France has opened an investigation into the disappearance of an American student who, according to his family, has not been heard from for more than two weeks.
Classmates of Kenny DeLand Jr. reported him missing Nov. 29, prompting the investigation, according to a statement from the prosecutor released Monday and obtained by CNN.
Deland is a senior from St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York, who studied at the University of Grenoble Alpes, according to his family.
“The young man allegedly told several people that he had arrived in France ill-prepared and that he was having trouble making friends,” Grenoble prosecutor Eric Vaillant said in a statement.
The school is approximately 75 miles southeast of Lyon in eastern France.
DeLand’s parents say they haven’t heard from him since Nov. 27. “We don’t understand why he doesn’t contact us if he contacts us daily or every other day like he was, it’s just not characteristic of Kenny.”
DeLand “appears to have left Grenoble voluntarily,” Vaillant said, adding that the student was seen at a Decathlon store in the town of Montelimar, about 87 miles from Grenoble, on December 3.
“He also mentioned that he wanted to go to Marseille before leaving for the United States,” Vaillant said.
DeLand was scheduled to leave France on December 15, according to the prosecutor’s statement.
The family says a missing person report has been filed and bank records show DeLand made a last purchase at a store on Dec. 3. There has been no record of his whereabouts since then, according to his family.
The US State Department is “aware of reports of a missing US citizen in France,” a department spokesperson told CNN on Monday. They did not provide further details.
“When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they conduct their search, and we share information with families as we can,” they said.
To help find him, Deland’s family has launched a website where people can post tips and information.
“St. John Fisher University will continue to do everything in its power to assist in the investigation to locate Kenneth DeLand,” the school said in a statement.
“University officials have remained in close contact with the American Institute of Foreign Studies (AIFS) who are working with local law enforcement on the search, as well as Kenneth’s family to offer them a support during this time. Our university community remains hopeful that Kenneth will be found safe and return home.