On Nov. 17, missing Grand Valley State University student Brendan Santo's family increased the reward from $11,000 to over $20,000 for anyone with credible information that leads to bringing Santo home.
The reward will be managed through Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan through MSUPD’s toll-free tip line and tip email.
Since Nov. 9, the GoFundMe organized by Melissa Corsi for Santo's family has reached more than $109,000 in donations.
The funds will be used to hire private entities to help increase search efforts, print flyers, help with family costs incurred due to absence from work and traveling between East Lansing and home, feed volunteers and notify additional publications to get the word out about Santo, including billboard signs.
Michigan State University Police and Public Safety has also expanded its partnerships with local, state and federal agencies to assist with the investigation. Oakland County and Grand Valley State University agencies are now assisting the investigation.
As of now, the search operation has included searches by foot, helicopter, drone and boat.
“Our investigators have been diligent in this investigation,” Rozman said in an email on Nov. 6. “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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI.
“We have not recovered Brendan’s phone and records show no current activity,” Rozman said in a Nov. 4 press release. “We are confident that we have obtained the available information from his digital footprint.”
The last confirmed location of Santo’s phone is Beal Street. Authorities confirmed his battery drained down to 0%, according to the Bring Brendan Home Facebook page. It was not deliberately shut off. Santo has a dark-colored iPhone 11, with no screen protector.
“The enhanced investigative team has begun to meet and review all leads and all the work that has been done so far to review our collective investigative practices,” Rozman said in an email statement to The State News. “We also continue our search of the Red Cedar River as that area remains of particular interest, however, we continue to explore and consider other possibilities.”
Santo was not carrying the keys to his vehicle, but his family was able to take it home. However, he was carrying the keys to his friend's vehicle. The friend’s vehicle was parked at Emmons Hall on Friday. The car was then towed to a dealership on Sunday for new keys.
Santo's friends checked the vehicle throughout the day on Saturday, thinking he had fallen asleep in it. When Santo didn't return, his friends contacted MSUPD. The police searched the vehicle and his friends are cooperating with the department.
Foul play is not suspected in Santo’s disappearance, and MSUPD has received no other reports of missing persons.
Brendan’s credit card has not been used since the evening of Oct. 29. The cameras around the area Santo went missing were not operational.
As a result, Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced in an email Nov. 12 that MSU Police and Public Safety will begin installing more than 300 new security cameras on campus.
“I continue to be heartened by our community’s outpouring of support for the Santo family, and I appreciate those who have shared information with law enforcement and volunteered in the search,” Stanley wrote in the email. “But I do understand that this tragic situation has evoked many concerns and emotions.”
There are thousands of cameras located throughout campus, but the one at the entrance of Yakeley Hall was not operational the night Santo went missing but is being fixed, Stanley wrote.
Brendan did not intend to harm himself, MSUPD confirmed.
“Brendan was not depressed or unhappy with his home or school life. He is very close with his parents,” the Facebook page 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.”
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Rozman confirmed the department has been following-up on and investigating any tips they received.
“MSU Police and Public Safety is reviewing all tips received and following up on tips that have the potential to further the investigation,” Rozman said in an email. “It would not be appropriate for us to comment on specific tips at this time.”
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.
The Santo family has encouraged community members to continue to keep their eyes open and provide tips or information to investigators.
At this time, there are no plans for additional civilian searches, the Santo family said in a statement to The State News.
“The Facebook page Bring Brendan Home continues to raise awareness of Brendan’s story,” the Santo family said on the Facebook page. “The BBH Warriors (as we like to call them) are working tirelessly sharing posts, posting flyers, reaching out to influential person/persons and giving their support to our family. Our family is overwhelmed by everything everyone is doing. Our family remains hopeful that we will find Brendan and bring him home.”
If you have any information, call MSUPD toll-free at 844-99-MSUPD or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan at 517-483-STOP.
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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