MSU police said Brendan Santo’s body was forensically identified Saturday night after a private investigator working with Santo’s family first alerted them that Santo’s body was in the Red Cedar River.
The positive test was made at 6.30pm. MSU police spokesman Chris Rozman said in an email, according to dental records.
Police said they planned to search that area of the river over the next week, but a tip from private investigator Ryan Robinson around midnight on Friday led them to close the area around the site and begin within an hour of being notified. Collect diving resources.
The search began at the outset and resulted in the discovery of the body of Santo, believed to be 18, around 12.30pm. In the Red Cedar River area near the intersection of Kalamazoo Street and Clippert Street in Lansing on Friday.
Robinson had been working with the Santos and was reviewing underwater video of the area when “he saw something completely submerged in the stalemate water”, according to a MSU police statement. Robinson told the Santos and then contacted 911 centers in Ingham and Oakland counties, police said.
MSU Police’s latest statement follows Friday night’s social media posts highlighting Robinson’s involvement that went viral.
In a statement Saturday, MSU police said they had no intention of concealing Robinson’s role in the investigation. The department said it did not name Robinson publicly because they were unsure whether he or the Santo family wanted the information public.
Instead, the department’s press release on Friday said police were “cooperating with the Santo family and their supporters” whose help was “critical” in the search for Santo.
“Not only is this true, we are grateful for Ryan’s tireless efforts,” the department said in a statement. “Ryan shared with responders that morning his sympathy for the Jan. 21 divers and rescues from multiple departments. The team’s full response is in awe. We thank the Santo family and all of their supporters for their tireless dedication throughout the investigation.”
MSU police said law enforcement had planned to search the river area where the body was found the week of Jan. 24, but Robinson’s call brought the time forward.
On Friday, Inspector Chris Rozman said the site had been an “area of interest” because of a “severe log blockage” there. But authorities need proper resources to search the area due to “entangling dangers and debris”.
On Friday, Michigan State University arborists blazed a trail to the river, where they deployed a boat to find and eventually retrieve the body.
Friday’s search included help from the Michigan State Police Maritime Division, the Capital Region Diving Team and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
Noting a Facebook post in which Robison was involved in the search, he said he had been working on the case for about 15 days and had been working hard to chop ice and place cameras in the deadlock area for several days.
Police said they believed the recovered body was Santo’s, but they were awaiting an official identification by the county medical examiner. An investigation into Santo’s disappearance is still ongoing, but police do not believe Santo intended to harm himself or be involved in foul play.
Santo of Rochester Hills was one of thousands heading to East Lansing on Oct. 29 ahead of a football game between Michigan State and the University of Michigan.
The Grand Canyon State student went missing shortly before the game, and for the 80 days since, his family, friends, volunteers and law enforcement have been searching for him.
The search began a day after Santo left Yackley Hall on the northern edge of the campus near Michigan Avenue, where police said the teenager was last seen shortly before midnight.
His family said he drove his truck to campus and planned to live with friends in a residence hall known as the Brody Community, a nearly 15-minute walk west.
Wearing a black baseball cap, black T-shirt, grey sweatpants and white Converse high-tops, Santo wears a gold cross necklace and holds an iPhone.
Investigators learned the device had zero power and relatives said it was last found on Beal Street, south of Yakeley Hall.
MSU President Samuel Stanley previously confirmed that the security cameras at the entrance to Yackley Hall were not operating the night Santo was last seen.
In an email to the Spartan community on Friday, Vice President for Public Safety and Police Chief Stanley and Marlon Lynch said they were saddened to share what is believed to be Santo’s body was found in the river.
They noted that the discovery came after more than two months of “extensive searches” using countless resources and support from nearly every corner of the state and country.