Body found in Red Cedar River positively identified as missing Adams High Graduate, Brendan Santo

UPDATE: Saturday, January 22, 2022

At 6:30pm on Saturday, January 22, 2022, the body found in the Red Cedar River on the previous day, Friday, was positvely identified as that of Brendan Santo. According to MSU Police Inspector, Chris Rozman, the medical examiner positively indentified the body based on dental records.


On Friday, January 21, 2022 at 12:30pm a body was recovered from the Red Cedar River, Michigan State Police believe this may be the body of missing Grand Valley Student and Rochester Adams High Graduate, Brendan Santo.

Brendan had last been seen leaving Yakeley Hall on the Michigan State campus on Friday, October 29th. This was the night before the big Michigan State vs Michigan football game at Spartan Stadium. It was believed that Brendan was making his way west toward the Brody dorm neighborhood to visit friends that were also Adams High School graduates. A direct line from Yakeley Hall to Brody Neighborhood's main cafe would be approximately a one-third of a mile route crossing the Red Cedar River twice.

In the 85 days since Brendan went missing scores of resources have been deployed to discover his whereabouts. Many agencies concentrated their efforts on the Red Cedar River. On Friday, those suspicions may have proven accurate. The body was found aproximately 1.5 miles downriver, west from where Brendan was last seen.

Map showing MSU's Yakeley Hall and Brendan's potential destination toward MSU's Brody Neighborhood.

Upon recovery of the body from the Red Cedar, Friday, January 21, 2022 at 12:30pm, Michigan State University Police Inspector, Chris Rozman released the following statement:

"Today after an extensive search MSU Police and public safety and our law enforcement partners recovered a body in the Red Cedar River at approximately 12:30 PM in Lansing. This location was approximately one and a half miles downriver of where Brendan Santo was last seen on campus. The body is believed to be that of Brendan Santo but identification is still pending.

The discovery was made possible in part as 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. Wwe are deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our thoughts go out to the Santo family and all those who knew Brendan."

Statement from MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr and MSU VP for Public Safety and Chief of Police Marlon C. Lynch

"Spartan Community,

We are saddened to share that after more than two months of extensive searching using countless resources and support from so many of you and members of the public from nearly every corner of the state and country, MSU Police and Public Safety has recovered a body believed to be Brendan Santo from the Red Cedar River.

We continue to believe there was no foul play involved and that Brendan did not intend to harm himself. There also is no threat to the safety and security of our campus.

Brendan's disappearance on Oct. 29, 2021, impacted many across our university community. While the news today may bring some closure to such a tragic incident, our hearts ache for the Santo family, Brendan’s loved ones and friends. We kindly ask our community to respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.

We want to thank everyone who has contributed in some way to the search efforts to date, including our campus partners, the volunteers who posted flyers across our community and joined the search efforts with us and the Santo family, and every law enforcement agency who dedicated time and resources to bring Brendan home. This entire effort was a collaboration between many law enforcement groups, the family and their resources and countless volunteers.

We know this news may be difficult for those within our campus community and beyond. It’s important to remember 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. Additional resources include MSU’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services for students and our Employee Assistance Program for employees. Our Residence Education Staff are also available to listen and support our students during this process.


Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. President

Marlon C. Lynch, Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police

UPDATE: Saturday, January 22, 2022 - Statement from Michigan State University Police Inspector, Chris Rozman

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.


Jan 21, 2022, Rochester.Life Staff
Updated Jan 22, 2022, Rochester.Life Staff

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