Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Search efforts for Brendan Santo ramp up, including search in Red Cedar River

November 4, 2021
<p>First responders have begun the search for Brendan Santo, who was visiting Michigan State and last seen leaving Yakeley Hall on Oct. 29. MSU Police and the Ingham County Sheriff&#x27;s Department have joined forces, conducting searches on foot and by helicopter, drone and boat. Nov. 1, 2021. </p>

First responders have begun the search for Brendan Santo, who was visiting Michigan State and last seen leaving Yakeley Hall on Oct. 29. MSU Police and the Ingham County Sheriff's Department have joined forces, conducting searches on foot and by helicopter, drone and boat. Nov. 1, 2021.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

On Nov. 4, Michigan State University's Police and Public Safety released an update on the missing person, Brendan Santo, assuring the community campus is a safe place for students, faculty, staff and visitors. 

Foul play is not suspected in Santo’s disappearance and MSUPD has received no other reports of missing persons.

Brendan did not intend to harm himself, the release said.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation,” Rozman said. “I can confirm that there's no other reports of any missing students on campus. I can confirm that we have not received any reports of any criminal activity related to this. ... There is nothing we have that we have not released to the public that involves this case.”

On Nov. 2, the MSUPD and the Marine Services Divison of the Michigan State Police, or MSP, conducted a search operation at the Jenison Fieldhouse, near the Red Cedar River. The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office has also provided assistance with specialized units.

“To enhance our search efforts, we are utilizing resources from other state and local law enforcement agencies,” MSUPD inspector Chris Rozman said.

MSP’s Marine Services Division has been conducting its search operation by boat and is using advanced sonar technology, along with the Capital Area Dive Team for this intensive search of the water.

As of now, the search operation has included searches by foot, helicopter, drone and boat. Since Saturday, several canines have been used as well.

“The Red Cedar River is of particular interest just due to the close proximity (to) where Brendan was last seen,” Rozman said. “That particular search effort is requiring additional resources from MSP’s Marine Services Division.”

Two miles of the river run through the MSU campus.

MSUPD’s digital forensics and cybercrime unit and MSP’s Technical Services Unit have also been involved in the search operation.

“Our investigators have been diligent in this investigation,” Rozman said. “They’ve interviewed everyone who last had contact or spoke with Brendan, and they’ve reviewed surveillance cameras. They've also utilized advanced investigative techniques. They've reviewed cellular telephone data, smartphone data, GPS data.”

In addition, the data is also being reviewed by the FBI.

"We have not recovered Brendan’s phone and records show no current activity. We are confident that we have obtained the available information from his digital footprint." Rozman said in an updated press release.

None of MSU’s campus has been closed during the search.

“We’re asking people to kinda avoid the area,” he said. “We can’t completely secure the area. ... We’ve been really open in terms of what we’ve done so far.”

Santo was last seen on Oct. 29, leaving Yakeley Hall shortly before midnight. It is possible Santo planned to walk approximately a half-mile to the Brody Neighborhood, according to a Nov. 1 MSUPD news release.

Yakeley Hall is located on the north end of MSU’s campus, near Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue.

Santo was not a student at MSU and was visiting friends. However, there is no indication he left the East Lansing area. Santo’s vehicle was left in the last location it was parked.

He was last seen wearing gray sweatpants, a black T-shirt, a black baseball hat and Converse shoes. Santo is five feet, 10 inches, and 160 lbs.

“We remain hopeful while at the same time acknowledging that he has been missing for over three days. ... All of our officers and investigators are working very hard to bring this case to a resolution,” Rozman said.

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Rozman said investigators are piecing together where Santo went and what he did. There are no significant leads at this point.

“Our campus is a safe place for our students and employees right now. We just ask that everyone respect the search that is currently underway by law enforcement. We continue to think about, and pray for, Brendan and his family during this time,” said MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant in an email to The State News.

MSUPD remains in close contact with Santo’s family. They have been provided with a place to stay near campus as search operations continue.

The Santo family has encouraged community members to continue to keep their eyes open and provide tips or information to investigators.

"We recognize this has been a concerning time for members of our campus community and beyond and we appreciate the outpouring of support from each of you and your individual efforts to aid in spreading awareness about our ongoing efforts," Marlon Lynch, MSU Vice President of Public Safety said in an email.

If you have any information, call the toll-free tip line at 844-99-MSUPD or email to tips@police.msu.edu.

For resources, the MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is available 24/7 by calling 517-355-8270. The MSU Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is also available by calling 517-355-4506.

Students at Grand Valley State University can also contact their University Counseling Center at 616-331-3266.

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