Reward grows as search continues at MSU for Brendan Santo

Posted at 10:36 PM, Nov 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-14 22:36:12-05

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The reward for information in the disappearance of 18-year-old Brendan Santo has now grown to more than $10,000 as volunteers from metro Detroit continue to search in East Lansing.

Santo, originally from Rochester Hills and a student at Grand Valley State University, was visiting friends the weekend of the Michigan/Michigan State football game when he disappeared just before midnight, the night before the game.

Two long weeks have gone by with no answers. No hints, no clues and no leads on where he might be.

“That's probably the most frustrating thing," said his aunt Dawn Brewer. "It's like the police are trying hard but if they don't have anything to go with it makes it difficult to find a direction to go into.”

Brewer has been on MSU’s campus the last two weekends organizing volunteer searches. This weekend more than 200 volunteers covered areas just west of campus looking for Brendan's clothes, necklace, phone, keys or anything that might help find him.

“People are crawling around under bushes and they’re looking everywhere and they’re trying so hard," Brewer said. "Our family cannot even express how grateful we are that people feel like this for Brendan.”

Brendan was last seen walking alone from Yakeley hall to Brody near the Red Cedar River. Police say the river has become a key focus area.

“We have not been able to search the entire river," said Chris Rozman, an Inspector with the Michigan State University Police Department. "The river is vast on campus, we’ve searched areas that are of particular interest.”

Divers have been in the river, but Rozman says the search isn’t easy. The river is filled with obstacles like debris, has a current of 5 miles an hour and can have depths of up to 12 feet with visibility of 0-2 feet.

“Our search has kind of continued from the point he was last seen west (downstream),” Rozman said. “I do want to emphasize that’s not the only place we’re looking, we do consider other possibilities at this point.”

Rozman says there is no indication foul play is involved.

So far police and volunteers have combed nearly every inch of campus and even off campus. Other agencies like the Michigan State Police and the FBI are also involved.

“We’re putting our hearts and souls into this and it’s always important that we carry a level of hope when we do our jobs," Rozman said. "We’re still carrying a level of hope.”

With no leads, it’s hard to know where to search next. However Brendan’s family says they’ll search everywhere and won't quit until Brendan is found.

“It's not an option, we have to find this young man, we have to," said his aunt Jenny Rose. "He’s got to be home. Holidays are coming up, we need Brendan home.”

Divers will be out in the river again on Monday. Volunteers are also asking any hunters in the Ingham County area to keep an eye out, especially near the Red Cedar River or Grand River (where the Red Cedar feeds into).

Volunteers are looking for his black red wings hat, blue iPhone, car keys and gold necklace.

Anyone with information can contact MSU PD at 844-99-MSUPD.