State News

Brendan Santo's parents 'are relieved to have closure' after body is identified as Rochester Hills teen

January 23, 2022, 6:01 PM

A body found Friday in the Red Cedar River is 18-year-old Brendan Santo, Michigan State University police confirm.

Ryan Robison of Birmingham (top right) sets an underwater camera at a Red Cedar River logjam. (Photo: Facebook/Kendra Cassidy)

The teen was about a mile-and-a-half downriver from where he was last seen on Halloween Weekend nearly three months ago.

The remains were first spotted remotely Thursday night by private investigator Ryan Robison, who began helping the victim's family about two weeks ago, the Lansing State Journal reports.

Robison found what he suspected was Santo’s body submerged in the river at a logjam while reviewing underwater video. ...

The 48-year-old Birmingham sleuth had chopped rivertop ice sheets and installed underwater cameras in the area where Santo’s body was recovered, the paper adds. 

Rochester Hills parents "Brad and Wendy [Santo] are relieved to have closure," Robison says Friday night in an email shared by an admirer on Facebook.

Ryan Robison offered to search

The licensed private detective, a 1995 Hope College graduate, founded the Robison Group in 1998. It focuses on insurance investigations, risk reduction and other business services, not missing persons.

The founder says in his message to friends and family that his wife, Katie Robison, "has followed the story of Brendan from the very first day" and persuaded him to offer help to the Santo family -- whom they didn't know. "About one month ago, Katie said to me: 'If anyone can find Brendan, you can. Go find this boy.'

"I may have found him, but Katie is the reason he is going home." She's a Michigan State graduate.  

Original post, Friday afterrnoon:

Michigan State University police say searchers have found a body in the Red Cedar River, believed to be that of Brendan Santo, 18, missing since Oct. 29. 

Brendan Santo

The Lansing State Journal reports

MSUPD Inspector Chris Rozman said police recovered a body from the river at about 12:30 p.m. Friday, about a mile and a half downriver from where Santo was last seen in October.

Rozman said they believe the body is Santo's, but they are not positive. Police still do not believe foul play is involved or that Santo intended to harm himself.

Santo, a Grand Valley State University student from Rochester Hills, has been missing for about 12 weeks.

Santo was visiting friends in East Lansing the weekend of the Michigan-Michigan State game. He left a residence hall near the river shortly before midnight and wasn't seen again. No activity was picked up on his cell phone or credit cards afterward, either. His family and friends had led searches and pleaded for tips, but nothing turned up. Dive teams had concentrated on the river in recent weeks. 

"We have not received any credible information from the public, or from any witnesses or anybody," Rozman told Deadline Detroit earlier this week. "But we're open to exploring any other possibilities or any other leads as they present themselves."

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