LANSING, Mich. — After an extensive search, MSU Police and Public Safety and our law enforcement partners recovered a body in the Red Cedar River at 12:30 p.m. today in Lansing, approximately 1.5 miles downriver of where Brendan Santo was last seen. The body is believed to be that of Santo, but identification is still pending. The discovery was made possible as part of a collaborative effort between law enforcement and other partner resources.
The Santo family has been informed and we are providing them with as much information and support as possible during this difficult time. We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to the Santo family and all those who knew Brendan.
We ask that the public respect the family’s privacy. Please understand that this is an open and active investigation, and we are limited in what we can share at this time. MSU Police and Public Safety and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate the circumstances and details surrounding this incident. We still have no reason to believe foul play is involved or that Brendan intended to harm himself.
The search for Brendan has lasted more than 80 days, with assistance from multiple law enforcement agencies, civilian tips, and community support. Many law enforcement agencies from across the state have provided expertise and resources as part of this intensive investigation and search operation. We have also worked collaboratively with the Santo family and their supporters, and that partnership was essential in our efforts to find Brendan.
We know this news may be difficult for those within our campus community and beyond. It’s important to remember that the grief some individuals may be experiencing is normal and there are a number of ways in which individuals can seek support, including talking with friends, family and colleagues to process this.
The MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is available 24/7 by calling 517-355-8270. The MSU Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available by calling 517-355-4506. Students at Grand Valley State University can also contact their University Counseling Center at 616-331-3266.
UPDATE (1/22/22) – We wanted to provide some additional information on the search operation yesterday. The spot where Brendan was located in the logjam had been an area of significant interest for law enforcement, search teams, and the Santo family. The Santo family was aware of a complex law enforcement search operation planned for that specific area of the river the week of January 24th that would involve clearing logs and debris to make it safer for divers and get a boat in the water.
At approximately midnight on January 21st we were notified by Ryan Robison, a private investigator working with the Santo family, that while reviewing underwater video he saw something completely submerged in the water at the logjam that he strongly suspected was the body of Brendan Santo. Ryan proceeded to the Santo residence to share the findings with the Santo family. Following this, Ryan contacted the 911 centers in both Ingham and Oakland counties sharing the photo and location. This information quickly resulted in the gathering of multiple dive resources to explore the specific spot where Brendan was suspected as part of our continued search operation. Within the hour of notification, resources from MSU Police and Public Safety closed off the area around the logjam. Dive teams and multiple resources were in the water at first light to begin the recovery process.
Immediately after Brendan was located, we were not sure if Ryan or the Santo family wanted this information known publicly. Our original news release said that we have worked collaboratively with the Santo family and their supporters, and that partnership was essential in our effort to find Brendan. Not only is that statement true, we cannot thank Ryan enough for his relentless efforts. Ryan shared with responders that morning that he was in awe of the totality of the response on January 21 from divers and rescue teams from multiple departments. We are grateful for the tireless dedication of the Santo family and all of their supporters throughout this investigation. We wanted to state this publicly now that we have received permission from the family.
It was never our intent not to give proper credit to all those involved; this was about providing closure to the Santo family, Brendan’s loved ones and friends, and our community. Each of our partner agencies, including Ryan, offered important information and resources that led to yesterday’s discovery. Again, we thank them all.
Media Contact: Inspector Chris Rozman, Public Information Officer.