An American student who went missing two weeks ago in France said his family said Friday he told relatives he was safe in Spain, solving at least part of the mystery that has sparked an international search.
Kenny DeLand Jr. called his loved ones early Friday morning, the family said in an online news release. She “saw herself on the news,” the family said.
“We are pleased to report that Kenny is well,” the statement read. “Kenny is in Spain and Carol (his mother) is in France, getting ready to see Kenny and bring him home for Christmas.”
The family did not say exactly what DeLand Jr. told them or explain his whereabouts for the past two weeks.
Earlier Friday, his father, Ken DeLand Sr., was in the middle of a call with CNN when he was suddenly cut off — and then texted CNN that he had just spoken to his son. French lawyer Eric Vaillant also told CNN that Deland Jr. spoke with his family from Spain on Friday.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes he was actually calling,” Ken DeLand Sr. told CNN reporter Pamela Brown Friday night. “It was very impressive.”
“It seems surreal, the whole situation,” added the father. And now it is finally, the final chapter. »
DeLand Sr. didn’t give his son many details about what he’s been up to in the past few weeks, but said he was in Spain and asked his father to stop contacting news agencies.
I said, ‘But Ken, that’s what dads do. We care about you,'” DeLand Sr. added.
DeLand, a senior at Saint John Fisher University in Rochester, New York, attended Université Grenoble Alpes, his family said. His parents have said in recent days that they have not heard from him since November 27.
He was reported missing on November 29 by his colleagues, the Grenoble lawyer said, prompting Weiland to launch an investigation.
The woman who took Deland to France thought he may have left voluntarily, he told CNN before he was found — a theory Weiland echoes. appeared this week.
But the boy’s parents do not believe that is the case, his father said recently on Wednesday, condemning what he described as the authorities’ response not being urgent enough.
Interpol issued a yellow notice Thursday for DeLand, who was reported missing on November 27. According to Interpol, these alerts are issued to help locate missing persons, often minors, or to identify anyone who cannot identify themselves.
DeLand was scheduled to return to the United States next Saturday, his father said before he was found, adding that even if the student wanted to go hiking, he would still be in touch.
“Without correspondence, without contact, this has nothing to do with my son,” DeLand Sr. told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday. “It creates all the anxiety a parent can feel.”
A department spokesperson told CNN on Friday that the US State Department is aware of reports that the student is alive and safe, but declined to provide details.
“We have seen a reassuring report that a missing US citizen has been found in Europe and has been able to speak with his family. For privacy reasons, we are unable to provide further details,” said a company spokesperson.
When Weiland announced on Monday that he was investigating Deland Jr’s disappearance, he said the student had “voluntarily left Grenoble”.
“The young man allegedly told several people that he had just arrived in France and was having trouble making friends,” Wieland said on Monday.
The student was found on December 3 in a shop in the city of Montélimar, about 90 km southwest of Grenoble, in Vaillant. He said.
Before returning to the United States, Wieland said he wanted to visit the Mediterranean city of Marseille, about 190 miles south of Grenoble.
Of all the students DeLand’s adoptive mother took in, the woman said, she seemed to have the hardest time getting in. This week on CNN on the condition of anonymity to protect his privacy.
When the adoptive mother did not hear from DeLand, she said, she showered him with letters trying to find out where he was, but he did not respond. Knowing he was seen on Dec. 3 was reassuring, she said, because she became suspicious that he had left and deliberately cut off communications.