Virginia Commonwealth University Police released a statement today from the parents of a missing British exchange student in which they thanked supporters in Great Britain and the United States.More >>
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It's been more than a week since a foreign exchange student at VCU was last seen. No one has heard from 22 year-old Jonathan Dorey since March 2. Now his friends are organizing search efforts, and reaching out for help on Facebook.
Word of Jonny Dorey's disappearance is spreading around VCU's campus. The face of the visiting student from England is popping up in all kinds of places.
"I was just on Facebook, and there was this icon on the side of my browser. It was like, join this group," said VCU student Taylor Proffitt.
Dorey's friends have created a Facebook group that has over 13,000 members, and counting. The page features photos, descriptions, and articles about Dorey and the efforts to find him.
"Facebook is direct marketing, so you can pretty much reach everyone, every age. Everyone in college has Facebook, so it really helps," said Raquaam Smith, VCU student.
Organizers of the search effort are taking advantage of social media's ability to move a message far and fast.
"You can really come in contact with so many people that you don't even know, just mutual friends," said Taylor.
Dorey's friends describe him as an avid mountain biker, and police search efforts have concentrated on bike trails where he was known to ride. His friends have organized a volunteer bike search for this Friday, focusing on areas around Belle Isle. A call for help is featured on the Facebook page.
"I saw it on a Facebook event -- it said "Help find Jonny," Holly Clark said.
Dorey was seen on a security camera leaving the Gladdings Residence Center on the morning of March 2, and bank records show his debit card was used to make a purchase at a nearby 7-Eleven. Dorey's parents have traveled to Richmond, but have not spoken publicly. For now, VCU students are hearing and spreading the word about Jonny -- over the internet.
"The more people that are aware, the greater chance you have, the more clues that maybe you can fit together," said Taylor.