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Upcoming dinner, silent auction to bring awareness to Brendan Santo case

January 18, 2022
<p>MSU PD, Lansing PD and the Capital Area Dive Team continue the search for Brendan Santo, who went missing on campus on Friday, Oct. 29. Nov. 3, 2021. </p>

MSU PD, Lansing PD and the Capital Area Dive Team continue the search for Brendan Santo, who went missing on campus on Friday, Oct. 29. Nov. 3, 2021.

A dinner and silent auction is planned for Feb. 26 to raise awareness for missing Grand Valley State University student Brendan Santo.

The State Flyer Challenge is ongoing and raises awareness by spreading flyers in all 50 states. In addition, the College Flyer Challenge aims to have flyers in all Michigan colleges.

The Bring Brendan Santo Home Facebook group has also reached over 43,000 members.

"Our family started the Bring Brendan Santo Home Facebook as soon as we found out he was missing. We knew we needed to raise awareness," Dawn Brewer, Santo's aunt, said. "Our family continues to be overwhelmed by their support and dedication. ... We have started to raise awareness for other missing people."

This past weekend, a member of the Facebook group put together a smaller search. Brewer stated that they are planning future searches.

The Santo family has conducted multiple civilian searches of the MSU campus with more than 800 volunteers.

The Michigan State University Police and Public Safety task force has conducted an extensive search of the Red Cedar River.

Investigators have used sonar, canines and other underwater technology as part of the river search to identify areas of interest in the water.

“The water search is complex and challenging and remains ongoing," MSUPD inspector Chris Rozman said.  

MSUPD has consulted with engineers and water experts to determine the search operations’ next steps. Search efforts have since moved downriver to the west, with professional and volunteer search teams.

The department 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.

In addition, multiple K9 teams were used early in the investigation, including cadaver dogs. 

“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.”

MSUPD is working with East Lansing Police Department, Grand Valley State University Police Department, Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan Department of Attorney General, Michigan State Police, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

However, there has been little activity since early December, Brewer said in a Jan. 17 email to The State News.

"Our family has been told they are planning on continuing the search west of Clippert St. but have not been advised of any specific plan. As the task force has access to several different departments with water rescue expertise, we hope continued searching can be accomplished soon," she said. "The police have come under scrutiny for focusing on the river and our family is supportive of them using whatever resources they have to rule it out or find Brendan if he is in the water. ... We are asking them to use/request every available resource from the task force ... to do this."

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 at the time.

Brendan did not intend to harm himself, MSUPD confirmed.

“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,” Rozman said in a Jan. 12 email to The State News. 

No verifiable tips have been reported of any Santo sightings at this time.

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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.

"Brendan’s last known location (via a ping) is different than originally thought," Brewer said. "He may have been further down Michigan Ave closer to the Brody area."

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.

"Finding out what happened after Brendan left Yakeley Hall is the key to finding Brendan or at the least adding another piece to this horrible puzzle," Brewer said.

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.

She said, "The police state there is no evidence of foul play, there is also no evidence suggesting there wasn’t foul play, so it cannot be ruled out. ... No one knows what happened to Brendan after he left Yakeley Hall."

Since Nov. 9, the GoFundMe organized by Melissa Corsi for Santo’s family has collected more than $120,000 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.

“We are in constant contact with the Santo family and are doing everything we can to support them during this difficult time,” Rozman said. “It’s important that when we do our jobs, we always carry a level of hope and not make any assumptions. We are doing everything we can to find Brendan.”

If you have any information, call MSUPD toll-free at 844-99-MSUPD or email tips@police.msu.edu. You can also contact Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan at 517-483-STOP.

There is also an award of over $20,000 managed through Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan through MSUPD’s toll-free tip line and tip email. 

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