The FBI have officially joined the search for missing 18-year-old Brendan Santo, who disappeared on Oct. 29, the weekend of the rivaled Michigan State vs. University of Michigan college football game.
The Grand Valley State University student went missing on Michigan State’s campus the night before the big game, authorities said, and the family was able to gather over 500 students and concerned community members to aid in their search over the weekend.
“We had to have at least over 500 people searching… people that we knew about,” said Dawn Brewer, Brendan’s aunt. “I know other MSU students were out there… they’re like, ‘We know this campus, we know where to look.'”
The investigation into what happened to Brendan, now missing for over 12 days, has also garnered over 5,600 members on a Facebook page title “Bring Brendan Santo Home,” where search parties are formed to scour the location surrounding Michigan State University.
“The amount of support we’ve gotten just floors me,” Brendan’s aunt said. “These people have been so amazing and so wonderful to help us find Brendan.”
Authorities said that he was last spotted around midnight on Oct. 29, dressed in gray sweatpants, a black T-shirt, a Detroit Red Wings cap and Converse high top sneakers. He has a build of 160 pounds and stands at around 5’10” tall. His last known location is near Yakeley Hall on Michigan State’s campus.
Despite the FBI’s help, Michigan State authorities released a statement detailing that, “At this point, foul play is not suspected in Brendan Santo’s disappearance.”
“We have received no other reports of missing persons,” MSU police said. “We also do not believe that Brendan intended to harm himself.”
Investigators revealed that along with volunteer search parties, they have also employed the use of drones, helicopters, boats, canine units, and a diving team. They’ve also started, with the help of the FBI, to comb GPS signals and cellular smart phone data.
“We have been collaborating with our local, state, and federal partners for several days, and this arrangement formalizes and expands our team while making additional expert resources and personnel available to assist us in bringing Brendan home,” said Inspector Chris Rozman, MSU’s Public Information Officer.
“Our genuine hope is that with these additional resources and collaboration we will ensure that all investigative avenues are being explored and the work that we have already done can be reviewed by other professional agencies for collective investigative practices,” he said.
Chief of Police Marlon Lynch echoed the investigators, adding that, “this has been a concerning time for members of our community and beyond and we appreciate the outpouring of support from each of you and your individual efforts to spread awareness about our ongoing efforts.”
“We will continue our tireless search and investigation, and we will do everything we can to bring Brendan home,” he said.
Even after nearly two weeks of searching, few clues have been made available. Authorities have recently turned their attention to the nearby Red Cedar River, where searching is a bit more complicated. Dive teams have been searching the area for at least a week, but the river has very low visibility and a lot of obstacles such as rocks that are hard to see.
“We’re [at] a full week of diving and it’s frustrating,” said Sgt. Michael Vanbeek, supervisor for the Lansing Dive Team. “They want to help the family and bring them closure and help them figure out what happened. It wears on them quite a bit. They’ve been through it before. It can be challenging on them mentally and physically.”
A GoFundMe page set up to help feed volunteers and pay for private detectives has since raised over $82,000 as of Wednesday, Nov. 10. The family is also offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who calls in with credible information that leads to finding Brendan. Tips can be shared at 844-99-MSUPD and 517-483-STOP.