Search Effort Unfolds for Ian Burnet, 22, Who Went Missing in NYC on December 30


Friends and family members of Ian Hunter Burnet, a 22-year-old engineering student at Virginia Commonwealth University, have launched a massive effort to locate him after he disappeared on December 30. Burnet had traveled to New York City on December 26, staying at an apartment with friends near 139th Street and Riverside Drive. He last texted his parents on December 28th; his last known text was to his roommate on December 30. He disappeared at approximately 4 p.m. on that day and has not been heard from since. Police say he has not used his cell phone or credit cards since that date.

The effort to find him involves a Facebook page (with 1,777 members at the time of this post), plus a website,, both of which are functioning to get the word out and coordinate the posting of flyers across New York City as well as in New Jersey and New Kent County, Virginia. There’s also a Twitter account, @FindIanBurnet.

According to,

Ian comes from a warm and loving home and has no history of problems with drugs or alcohol. They only want to know that he is safe and pray he returns to his family soon.

Ian is an engineering student on full scholarship at Virginia Commonweath University. He is well known for his wit, warmth, and intelligence. If you ask his mother what his biggest attribute is, she would say he gives the most incredible hugs.

Ian is a white male, 5’8″, 131 lbs., with green eyes and curly dark brown hair.

If you make contact with him or have any information about his whereabouts please contact the New York Police Department, 30th Precinct (451 W 151st St.) 212-690-884; Det. Sanchez or Det. Davis, or Sgt. Greene.

The site offers flyers that can be printed out and distributed, as well as a form for anonymous tips and information. “We are not tracking the identity or IP address of users,” they state. Earlier this month, investigators had said they did not suspect foul play.

There are more photos of Burnet on the Facebook page. A vigil is being held for him tonight in Virginia.

Update: Althea Bernheim, who is a cousin of Ian’s father and lives in Jersey City, is heading up the canvassing effort in NYC. She tells us, “We always need more people to hand out flyers, and everyone is welcome to join the FB page for latest information of where we need coverage. We have hit major transportation hubs, Harlem, subways, libraries, universities. From Jersey City alone, we have a team of about 30 people going into NYC to post and hand out flyers. The most recent suggestions on where to canvass are the surrounding areas now such as Brooklyn, Queens, and northern New Jersey, as well as neighborhoods north of Harlem and along the Metro. In addition, sites where homeless people frequent. We are asking that people hand out flyers to any police officers or EMTs they come across and to ask that the flyers be posted outside of fire houses.”

She adds, “Individuals in NYC have been phenomenal in getting out the message. They have been our eyes and ears. The outpouring of support and people actually hitting the ground has been stunning,and this is what has kept our hopes up. Thank you, NYC!”

Bernheim says there have been several promising tips, with some people claiming to have seen Ian as recently as a few days ago. “We remain extremely hopeful in finding Ian,” she says.