Kenny DeLand Jr., the American student who was reported missing more than two weeks ago in Grenoble, France, is alive, his father Ken DeLand Sr. told CNN on Friday.
DeLand Jr. is in Spain, French Prosecutor Eric Vaillant told CNN, adding only that the young man had spoken Friday with his parents.
DeLand Jr.’s father had been in the middle of a call with CNN when he suddenly hung up. He later messaged CNN to report “good news” – and said he’d just spoken with his son.
“He is alive – that’s all I can say,” he told CNN.
Deland Sr. did not elaborate on what his son told him and did not explain where his son has been for the past two weeks.
A senior at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York, DeLand Jr. had been studying at the University of Grenoble Alpes, according to his family. His parents in recent days said they had not heard from him since November 27.
His fellow students reported him missing on November 29, prompting Vaillant to launch an investigation, the Grenoble prosecutor had said.
The woman who had hosted DeLand in France thought he may have left voluntarily, she told CNN before he was found – echoing a theory Vaillant put forward this week.
But the young man’s parents didn’t believe that was the case, and his father as recently as Wednesday decried what he called a response from authorities that was not sufficiently urgent.
Interpol on Thursday issued a Yellow Notice for DeLand, saying he went missing on November 27. Such notices are issued to help locate missing persons, often minors, or to help identify anyone who cannot identify themselves, according to Interpol.
DeLand had been scheduled to return to the US on Saturday, his father said before he was found, adding that although the student liked to go hiking, he would always keep in touch.
“For him to not reach out, with no correspondence, this is very uncharacteristic of my son,” DeLand Sr. told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday. “This is what creates all the worry that any parent could ever feel.”
“As time goes by, it makes you worry even more.”
When Vaillant announced Monday he was investigating DeLand Jr.’s disappearance, he said the student seemed “to have left Grenoble voluntarily.”
“The young man reportedly told several people that he had arrived in France underprepared and was having difficulty making friends,” Vaillant said Monday.
The student had been seen on December 3 in a store in the town of Montélimar, roughly a 90-mile drive southwest of Grenoble, Vaillant said.
And Deland had mentioned he wanted to go to Marseille, a city along the Mediterranean some 190 miles south of Grenoble, before returning to the US, Vaillant said.
Of all the students DeLand’s host mother had welcomed, he seemed to have the most trouble fitting in, the woman told CNN this week on the condition of anonymity out of concern for her privacy.
When the host mother hadn’t heard from DeLand, she inundated him with messages trying to figure out where he was, but he did not reply, she said. Learning that he’d been seen December 3 was reassuring, she said, because she felt it confirmed her suspicions he may have left and cut off communications voluntarily.