Student missing in NYC

Ian Burnet, 22, left his Richmond, Va. residence on Dec. 26, 2011 to travel to New York City to stay with friends.

An engineering student who came to New York City to celebrate the New Year holiday with friends has not been heard from since Dec. 30, and sources say the 22-year-old has a history of suicide attempts, according to NBC New York.

Ian Burnet, who studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, left his Richmond, Va., home the day after Christmas and took a bus to New York, where he planned to rent an apartment for a week with friends, authorities said.

Burnet’s last known contact was a text with a friend on Dec. 30. He was seen that afternoon at the apartment where he had been staying on 139th St. and Riverside Drive, but he left without his cell phone, according to The New York Daily News. He reportedly didn’t say where he was going.

“It’s completely out of character. We have no reason to think that he would do something like this,” Nancy Burnet said, reported The Daily News. The last time she heard from her son was via text on Dec. 27, after he visited Central Park, she said.

Concerned family and friends took to Facebook and the online community Reddit to spread the word about Burnet’s disappearance. Burnet’s older brother Jamie, a Reddit user, responded to one user who asked, “Have you ever thought he DOESN’T want to be found?” and said, “Yes. There’s a very real possibility that he took his own life, and I’m trying not to think about it. He has a history of depression, and there have been scares before. But he didnt leave any last messages behind, which would be extremely uncharacteristic … I’m hoping that’s not the case.”

According to NBC New York, investigators learned that Ian Burnet has attempted suicide at least three times in the past, at least once by combining alcohol and taking prescription pills. His family has said he doesn’t have a history of drug abuse or alcoholism.

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Burnet is thought to have brought his driver’s license and credit cards with him, but the charge cards haven’t been used since he vanished, his family said, reported The Daily News.

Investigators tracked his MetroCard to the 145th Street station on the northbound 1 line, close to the West Harlem apartment where he was staying on the day he disappeared, law enforcement sources told NBC New York. They’re reviewing video footage from cameras at the station in search of clues.

On Wednesday, police officers searched the boiler room, three empty apartments, and an elevator shaft in the building where Burnet was staying, reported NBC New York, a routine search in a missing person case.

Burnet’s father and brother traveled to New York to post flyers and join the search for him, which is being conducted jointly by police in New York and Virginia, reported The Daily News.

On his Reddit Page, Jamie Burnet wrote of his brother, “We’ve put up fliers and we’ve talked to the shelters and the cops but I don’t know what else to do. He has a history of depression and he was in a strange place. He was an engineer, a redditor, and the most important person in my life. I need your help. I realize that this subreddit has only the minutest fraction of the population of New York City subscribed, and even all of reddit combined, all of the INTERNET put together, would not represent a hopeful percentage, but I don’t know what to do.”

The Facebook page dedicated to finding Ian had more than 2,200 members as of Thursday morning. Another site,, was also set up to spread the word about his disappearance.

Ian Burnet is described as 5’8”, 131 pounds, with dark green eyes and curly brown hair. Anyone with information is asked to call the New York Police Department at (212) 690-8811.

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