A University of Rochester economics professor may be in danger after not showing up to his scheduled class, according to police inquiring after his whereabouts.
Heikki Rantakari, 44, is an associate professor at the university’s Simon Business School, per their website, and a visiting associate professor in applied economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, where he earned his economics Ph.D.
Rochester police Capt. Gregory Bello told Fox News Digital that Rantakari landed at Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport from his home in the Boston area around 7 p.m. Friday, and was seen around 9 p.m. at his Airbnb on Exchange Street between Flint Street and Mount Pleasant Park.
“The last person who saw him at the Airbnb, he’d stayed there before, [and] he recognized [Rantakari’s Finnish] accent and confirmed he was there… This is not the first time [Rantakari has stayed at that Airbnb],” Bello told Fox News on Wednesday.
Rantakari speaks with a Finnish accent, weighs approximately 180 pounds, stands 5 feet, 11 inches with an average build and has blonde hair and blue eyes, per a statement from his family shared with News 8 WROC.
“Heikki Rantakari is a hard-working professor and a nice, quiet man personally,” the family wrote. “If anyone may have seen or spoken to him, any information from the public regarding his whereabouts is greatly needed to help find him ASAP… many are praying for his safe return.”
Bello told Fox News Digital that Rantakari was first reported missing to the nearby Brighton Police Department on Saturday before Rochester Police began investigating.
Local outlet 13Wham snapped a photograph of a Rochester police cruiser outside the Airbnb on Exchange Street on Monday.
While some of the professor’s effects were found, there was no trace of Rantakari, Bello said.
Rantakari had probably taken an Uber from the airport to his lodgings, Bello said, and planned to take the nearby footbridge to his class minutes away.
But the captain did not specify what, specifically, led police to believe the professor is imperiled.
“Beyond the obvious circumstances that just poof, this guy has disappeared, there’s been some other information that indicates this guy may be in danger as well,” Bello said. “The odd part is this guy disappeared – my understanding that I have on it is that’s very out of character.”
Bello would not share the condition that the professor’s Airbnb was left in.
“He’s got a family back in Boston, and obviously they’re concerned about him as well, and that’s what we’re trying to resolve here and figure out what happened,” Bello told 13Wham.
“We thank all local law enforcement agencies and the University of Rochester’s Department of Public Safety in supporting this investigation,” University of Rochester officials wrote in a statement. “We’re asking for the public’s support in reporting anything that relates to Professor Rantakari’s whereabouts by calling 911. The University is hopeful that he is found safe very soon.”
Anyone with pertinent information is urged to call 911 or the Rochester Police Department’s Major Crimes unit at (585) 428-7157.
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