“It’s my worst nightmare,” said East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon. Brendan Santo’s Oct. 29 disappearance has shaken not only Michigan State students but also surrounding communities. Santo was last seen around midnight near Yakeley Hall wearing gray sweatpants, a black T-shirt, Detroit Red Wings hat, and high-top Converse shoes, but there is no footage of him outside the building.
Bacon is personally affected by this tragedy because he is a parent to a young college student.
“I want all of the young people to enjoy these amazing events that contribute to a rich, full college experience,” said Bacon. “I also want them to be safe and not make life-altering fatal decisions in the course of self-discovery.”
Chris Rozman, inspector and public information officer, said that the Red Cedar River is a primary point of interest. However, there have been hindrances to searching the river.
“The investigation has led us to the Red Cedar, but we do consider other possibilities,” said Rozman. “The river is very challenging to search. The current of the river, depth, visibility and the other obstacles that are in the river make it dangerous for divers.”
According to President Samuel Stanley Jr., Michigan State University president, “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 it is being fixed,” said Stanley.
Saturday, Nov. 6, and Sunday, Nov. 14, Santo’s family organized a search effort at the MSU Union to look all over campus and assist law enforcement search efforts. Santo’s family and friends provided civilians with a map and told people who came to look for his iPhone, necklace, or hat. A picture of Santo’s missing person’s flyer was handed out to each volunteer to visualize what they were looking for.
“We’ve been asking people to check their Ring cameras,” said Dawn Brewer, Santo’s aunt. “Any surveillance. Businesses, if you go through your surveillance and you see somebody who looks like him, even if it’s not him, that is still something we can mark off our list.”
Lansing community member and mother Elizabeth Goeddeke is sympathetic for the Santo family and hopes for a safe return.
“I’ve lived and raised three of my children here and all of them have spent countless hours on campus. As a mother of the community and a mother of three Grand Valley graduates. My heart is aching for the family,” said Goeddeke.
MSU Police have made the Santo Family a priority and continue to offer the Santos housing in the area along with updating them immediately when new information arises.
“Police have been in constant contact with the Santo family and we are doing everything we can to support them, ” said inspector Rozman.
In an email, MSU Vice President and Chief of Police Marlon Lynch wrote that the investigation has used advanced techniques to review cellular, smartphone and GPS data.
“To date, our efforts to find Brendan have included searches by foot, drone, helicopter and boat, and we have utilized canine units, divers, and civilian volunteers.
Santo’s civilian searches attracted hundreds of people, even Michigan State students who had never met Santo, but felt compelled to search for him.
“It’s making us all sick and scared. We’re all thinking about his family and how tough this is for everyone here. Me and my friends are searching the South neighborhood for Brendan,” said sophomore Carly Krupp.
Since the November searches, the MSU Police Department released a statement saying it has expanded the partnership with local, state and federal partners to help bring Santo home.
“It’s really nice to see the outpouring of support from everybody in the community. Even just around here, where a lot of people might not know him, and he did not go here, but people are still out looking,” said junior Cameron Limke, Santo’s neighbor.
The Santo family is offering an $11,000 reward for information that leads to finding Santo. Tips can be shared with Michigan State University Police Department at 844-99-MSUPD or Crime Stoppers at 517-483-STOP.