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NOBTS helping police in missing student case

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is assisting police in the disappearance of John W. Russell, a 39-year-old master of divinity student reported missing April 25th.

Russell was last seen April 21 at NOBTS around 7:45 p.m., and last had contact with his mother April 22, NOBTS Director of Public Relations Gary Myers confirmed to Baptist Press.

NOBTS informed the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) of Russell’s disappearance after receiving a call from his mother April 25th, Myers said.

NOBTS President Chuck Kelley told BP, “At this time we are assisting the authorities in every appropriate way to find John Russell, and we are praying for his safe return to his family.”

Russell, a commuter student, is described in news reports as 5’9″ tall, 190 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. According to New Orleans police, he was last seen wearing a long sleeve blue shirt and jeans, and drives a gray 2007 Chevy Silverado with Louisiana license plate C30-9240.

In Facebook and Twitter posts, Russell is described as the son of Jan (Hays) Russell of Memphis suburb Collierville, Tenn.

Various friends and family members have asked the public to pray for Russell’s safe return.

“Pray, pray, pray,” Melinda Cox Hall of Collierville posted on Facebook, identifying herself as Russell’s cousin. “Many of you know his family. … He is loved!”

“He’s such a wonderful man,” read another post.

“This is a Collierville family and friend of many here,” posted another Collierville resident. “Please share to friends in the NOLA area.”

Russell’s disappearance coincided with the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, an April 22–May 1 music, cultural and educational event that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors and has an economic impact of more than $300 million, according to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation.

Anyone with information on Russell’s location is asked to call the NOPD at (504) 658-6030.