Us

Father of missing Virginia college student issues emotional plea for son's return

  • This photo, provided by family members, shows 22-year-old Ian Burnet, right.

    This photo, provided by family members, shows 22-year-old Ian Burnet, right.

The father of a missing Virginia college student issued an emotional plea on Friday to his son, who disappeared two weeks ago while on a trip to New York City.

"Come to us," a visibly distraught Mark Burnet said in an interview with FoxNews.com. "We just want you home."

Ian Burnet, a 22-year-old student on full scholarship at Virginia Commonwealth University, was last heard from on Dec. 30 while touring Manhattan. His last known communication was a text message sent to a friend at around 4 p.m., indicating he was "going out," though he did not say where, according to his father.

Local media outlets reported Wednesday that Burnet, an engineering student and high school valedictorian, had tried to commit suicide in the past -- a claim his father said is difficult to believe.

"We know nothing about that," Burnet said, as he recalled exchanging gifts with his son at Christmas.

"My other son, Jamie, who's his best friend, couldn't believe it," he said. "Ian was in good spirits."

Burnet's cellphone and wallet were left at the apartment on 139th Street and Riverside Drive where he was staying with friends. His driver's license, credit card and MetroCard were missing. There has been no activity on Burnet's credit card since the time of his disappearance. His last known purchase was at a Burger King restaurant in the area near the apartment, according to his father.

Burnet, an avid runner and Eagle Scout, left his Richmond home for New York City on Dec. 26. His father claims he sent him a test message on Dec. 28, naming sites he had visited in the city, like Central Park. He also sent a text message to his female college roommate on Dec. 30, mentioning his plans upon his return to school, his father said. 

On Wednesday, police said Burnet's MetroCard shows he entered a northbound No. 1 train at the 145th Street station on the day he disappeared, according to local reports. Authorities are reviewing surveillance video from inside that subway station for any clues in the case, according to family members.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said earlier this week that the New York City Police Department is working with authorities in Virginia to locate Burnet.

"Friends said he stayed with them in an apartment on 139th Street in Manhattan, where they said they last saw him Dec 30, and where he left behind his personal belongings, including his cellphone," Browne said in an email to FoxNews.com.

Burnet's father said hundreds of volunteers from New York and New Jersey are assisting in the search, distributing fliers with his son's photograph. The young man's family has established a website, www.FindIanBurnet.com, devoted to the search for him.

Ian Burnet is described as 5-foot-10 and weighing 160 pounds. He has green eyes and curly dark brown hair. Anyone with information on his disappearance is being urged to call the New York City Police Department at 212-690-8811.