Parents of missing Virginia student head to New York to aid in search

Ian Hunter Burnet went to New York to celebrate the New Year with friends, but he has not been heard from since December 30.

Story highlights

  • Ian Hunter Burnet, 22, left Virginia to celebrate New Year's Eve in New York
  • He stayed with friends in Harlem, who last heard from him December 30
  • His parents have set up a Facebook page asking for information
  • Ian Burnet is 5 feet, 10 inches and weighs 160 pounds; he has brown hair, green eyes
The parents of a missing Virginia college student plan to travel to New York on Thursday to assist in his search.
Ian Hunter Burnet, a 22-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University student, went missing days after arriving in New York City to celebrate New Year's Eve, authorities said.
Burnet left Richmond on a bus bound for New York on December 26, according to his father, Mark.
He planned to stay with a fellow college student and her friend in an apartment in Harlem, his father said.
"He went up just to have a post-Christmas tourist visit to New York City and celebrate New Year's Eve. He was intending to have a short time there and then return back to Virginia," the father said.
According to Burnet's father, Burnet and a friend had made plans to hang out together back in Virginia on January 2, but Burnet never made it back. The last communication he had with his son was December 28.
"I received a routine type of text talking about touring in New York," he said.
Some other news outlets have reported that Burnet told friends he was not having a good time in New York, but his father said that was something he had not heard.
"I wish I knew more," he said, "If I did, I might be able to understand what happened."
What investigators do know is that the friends with whom Burnet was staying say they last heard from him on December 30.
"Ian was communicating via text with them and the last bit of information that we had was that he was just stepping out to go out for the evening. And we don't have any information other than that," the father said.
"It's very frustrating," said New Kent County Sheriff Farrar W. Howard, whose Virginia office is leading the investigation in conjunction with Virginia State Police and the New York City Police Department. "Nobody has seen him since the 30th."
Burnet's father said that his son, who graduated as valedictorian from New Kent County High School and was on a full scholarship to study engineering, was looking forward to classes starting back on January 17.
He said Burnet had lived on his own for years, was independent and would have no reason to simply run away.
Authorities retrieved Burnet's phone at the apartment where he was staying, but for Burnet to be without his phone is not uncommon, according to his father.
"He didn't really like talking on the phone. He would send texts and surf the Web, but he didn't like to carry a lot of valuables on his person," the father said.
Authorities say Burnet did take his driver's license and credit cards with him the last time he left the Harlem apartment.
"Who knows what's going through a 22-year-old's head?" the father said."But he would not want us to worry. If he was out there, he would get in touch with us."