Updated: Nearly 3 Months After Brendan Santo Vanished at MSU, Dogs and Phone Records Point to the River

January 17, 2022, 5:36 PM

Update: 10:30 a.m. Sunday -- Michigan State University police said Friday a body pulled from the Red Cedar River has been identified as the missing Rochester Hills teen Brendan Santo.

The body was recovered about about a mile-and-a-half from where the 18-year-old was last seen, a press release said. 


Report From Monday, Jan. 17

Nearly three months after Brendan Santo, 18, was last seen at Michigan State University, police say the strongest evidence -- cadaver dogs and cell phone records --  suggest he disappeared in the Red Cedar River running through campus. 

"The Red Cedar River continues to be of primary focus," Inspector Chris Rozman of the Michigan State University Police and Public Safety Department, tells Deadline Detroit. "We have not received any credible information from the public, or from any witnesses or anybody. But we're open to exploring any other possibilities or any other leads as they present themselves."

"Our investigative work has been reviewed by our local, state, and federal partners and we still have no reason to believe foul play is involved. There have been no confirmed sightings of Brendan since he was last seen on Oct. 29. Our investigation and search efforts have not located any items of interest or any of Brendan’s personal property."

The 18-year-old Rochester Hills student, a freshman at Grand Valley State University, was visiting friends during the weekend of the Spartans-Wolverines football game and Halloween. He was last seen outside Yakeley Hall on the north end of campus shortly before midnight Oct. 29.

His last detected cell phone location was on Beal Street, between the dormitory and the Red Cedar River. There were no security cameras in the area where he was believed to have been.

The Red Cedar River, a tributary of the Grand River, runs through campus and is 51 miles long.

"The water search is complex and challenging and remains ongoing," Rozman said. "We have used sonar, canines, and other underwater technology as part of the river search to identify areas of interest in the water. While we have searched these areas of interest in the Red Cedar with divers, it is not possible to search the entire river with divers."

Search challenges include underwater obstacles, a current five to six m.p.h and water eight to 12 feet deep. There have been occasional drownings in the river, the MSU Police inspector said.

"We are in constant contact with the Santo family, and we're doing everything we can to support them during this difficult time," he added. "When we do our jobs, we always carry a level of hope and don't make any assumptions. We're communicating with his family and sharing information."

A $20,000 reward is offered for information that leads to Santo’s discovery.

♦ Anyone with information should call MSU Police at 844-99-MSUPD or email tips@police.msu.edu

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