EAST LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - The Michigan State University Police Department has released more information about how the body believed to be Brendan Santo was recovered in the Red Cedar River on Friday.
According to a press release issued on Saturday from MSU PD, the spot where Brendan's body was found was in a logjam in an area that was ‘of significant interest for law enforcement, search teams, and the Santo family’.
This area was a part of the river that MSU PD said had to be cleared of logs and debris to make it safe for divers and a boat to be in the water. The plan was for the search operation of that area to take place next week. However, around midnight on Friday, a private investigator who had been working with the Santo family said he found something.
MSU PD identifies the investigator as Ryan Robison and said he was reviewing underwater video in the water at the logjam that showed something completely submerged in the water. He believed it be Brendan and notified the Santo family and then police.
Robison shared the information including location and photo with police and, within an hour, MSU Police and Public Safety closed off the area to explore the spot. At dawn, dive teams were in the water to recover the remains in the water.
MSU PD said it did not release this information on Friday because they were unsure if Robison or the Santo family wanted it to be known publicly.
MSU Police said Robison's efforts were greatly appreciated in the search for 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."
When was Brendan Santo's body found?
The Michigan State University Police Department announced on Friday that a body believing to be Brendan's was pulled from the Red Cedar River, more than 80 days after he was last seen.
In a press release from MSU Police and Public Safety, officials said they recovered a body from the river about a mile-and-a-half from where Brendan was last seen. The body is believed to be the 18-year-old but identification is still pending.
MSU police said they did not believe he intended to harm himself or that foul play was involved.
What happened to Brendon Santo?
The 18-year-old drove to East Lansing from Grand Valley University for the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game that weekend.
"He was at Yakeley Hall heading towards I think they call it the Brody area, going to Rather Hall, walking by himself," his father Brad Santo said.
Brendan Santo's phone was last pinged near Michigan Avenue and Beal Street shortly before midnight.
His parents said he seemed to be in good spirits the night he disappeared, and his last texts were to his friends telling them he was on his way.
"He shared his location with one of the friends, so that all seemed normal. You know, that's our challenge, you know. They've communicated that with police. They're like, ‘Yeah, he was texting us normal,' and his phone just went out," Brad Santo said.
The search for Brendan Santo
After the teenager stopped responding to his parents, the mystery of what happened to him grew over the course of the next three months.
Thousands of dollars were raised in support of a reward for information leading to his location.
Police initially believed Santo hadn't gone too far since his vehicle was found in the same place he first left it. His last known location was outside of Yakeley Hall on Oct. 29. Police believe the Red Cedar River, which meanders through campus, would offer proof about what happened to the teen.
Search efforts expanded to include a heavy following on social media, billboards in and around East Lansing, and hundreds of flyers posted around the area.
Adding to the struggles of searching for Santo is the information that some of the security cameras at Yakeley Hall were not working at the time Santo went missing.