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American college student missing in France for over two weeks, and family says "we fear the worst"

American college student missing in France
American college student missing in France 00:43

The family of an American college student who has reportedly gone missing while studying abroad in France is asking the public for help. 

Ken DeLand, 21, was spending the fall semester of his senior year at the Université Grenoble Alpes, a large university about 90 minutes from the city of Lyon. DeLand was staying with a host family, according to a website created by his family, and was last heard from on Nov. 27, when he communicated with his family via WhatsApp. 

DeLand's family said they have been in communication with authorities. He has been added to the French missing persons list and his passport will ping if he attempts to leave the country by train. 

Eric Vaillant, the public prosecutor in Grenoble, told CBS News that his office has also opened an investigation into DeLand's disappearance after "a report by students" was made on Nov. 29. 

DeLand is a student St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York. His international studies are set to end on Dec. 17, and his visa allowing him to stay in France will expire on Jan. 20, 2023, his family said. Vaillant said that he also had information that DeLand wanted to visit Marseille, France before leaving the country. 

"We fear the worst and want him to be located," they wrote on the website, where people can anonymously submit tips or other information about his whereabouts.

The last photo of Ken DeLand shows him entering a sports store in France wearing a red jacket and holding a black backpack.

DeLand was reportedly traveling by train from his host family's residence to Valence, France, a city that is about 60 miles from the university where he was studying.

Since then, the only information DeLand's family has about his location is that his cellphone was reportedly pinged on Nov. 30, and that a small purchase was made using DeLand's credit card in the town of Montemilar on Dec. 3. Montemilar is a small town about 40 miles from Valence, in between Valence and University Grenoble Alpes. 

Vaillant said that he also had information that DeLand wanted to visit Marseille, France before leaving the country. 

There has been no activity on DeLand's social media pages or WhatsApp account, his family said. 

DeLand, who is roughly 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, was last seen wearing a red jacket, grey hat and blue jeans. The last known image of DeLand shows him entering a store, which French authorities identified as a Decathlon sporting goods store in Montelimar. 

CBS News attempted to contact DeLand via the phone number listed on his Facebook account, but recieved an auto-reply that the number has been "changed, disconnected, or is no longer in service." A short message sent to his WhatsApp account was not delivered. 

Elaine Cobbe contributed to this report.

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