Parents of Grand Valley State student Brendan Santo, who disappeared from MSU campus, plead for his safe return



As the search for Brendan Santo, 18, enters its third week, her family is hoping for a break in the case as they plead for the public’s help.

“If you were at the Michigan game this weekend, check out your photos, your videos,” Brendan’s father Brad Santo implored the audience as he spoke with Dateline on Monday. “Look at the photos we posted… Does my son sound familiar to you?” Do you remember seeing it?

The Rochester Hills native and Grand Valley State University student has not been seen or heard from since he went missing while visiting friends at Michigan State University on Halloween weekend.

Brendan Santo

According to a press release, Inspector Chris Rozman, MSU Police and Public Security Information Officer, said Brendan was last seen just before midnight on Friday, October 29, 2021, as he left Yakeley Hall on the Michigan State University campus and headed towards the direction of the Brody neighborhood.

Brendan’s parents told Dateline he was in college this weekend for the big game between Michigan State and the University of Michigan. The night before, Brendan was hanging out with friends when he decided he wanted to go back to the dorms. But he never succeeded.

Brendan’s father told Dateline that there were so many people on campus this weekend, many of whom were visiting, that when his friends returned there was some confusion and they thought that he had just found himself in another dormitory.

But the next day, Brendan was nowhere to be found and his cell phone was dead. His vehicle was in the same spot where he had parked it when he arrived at campus for the weekend.

The next day, Brendan’s friends reported his disappearance to the MSU campus police, who contacted his parents, Brad and Wendy Santo. They immediately drove an hour to join the search.

Since this weekend, tens of thousands of dollars have been poured into a research fund; two massive searches for volunteers took place and the reward for information on Brendan’s whereabouts increased to $ 11,000.

“The community has given us tremendous support during this time,” Brad Santo told Dateline. “We’re not even close to giving up. We just have to keep going … and have people call the police if they see anything or remember seeing anything this weekend.

According to a report released by MSU police on Nov. 12, efforts to locate Brendan have included searches by foot, drone, helicopter and boat and used canine units, divers and civilian volunteers. The survey used advanced techniques to examine data from cellphones, smartphones and GPS. Investigators continue to review and follow advice as it is received.

Brendan’s disappearance also drew attention to campus security cameras, some of which were not operational the night he was last seen.

On November 12, MSU President Samuel Stanley released a statement that he learned that the camera at the entrance to Yakeley Hall was not operational the night Brendan was last seen.

“I have asked the MSU police and public security to order and install over 300 new cameras on our campus,” he said. “These cameras should be there in about a week and the crews will start installing them immediately.”

The case has since prompted other law enforcement agencies to get involved, including the FBI and the Michigan State Police Department.

A task force made up of local, state and federal agencies has been formed to help move the investigation forward.

“We have been working with our local, state and federal partners for several days, and this agreement formalizes and expands our team while providing additional expert resources and staff to help us bring Brendan home,” said Inspector Rozman in the press release. “We especially appreciate the continued help and support offered by Grand Valley State University and Oakland County, who provided investigators with direct contact with Brendan’s relatives.”

Along with the update released on November 12, police released photos of Brendan with a necklace, keys, and cell phone case to better describe him. MSU police have focused their search on the Red Cedar River on campus, but the search is not limited to the river and investigators are asking the public to keep an eye out for any information that could lead to Brendan.

USM Police

Brendan’s parents, who were involved in two searches for civilians, one of which took place over the weekend, told Dateline they were also looking for items belonging to Brendan, like his necklace and the hat he wore the night of his disappearance.

They pointed out that Brendan, who had just started his freshman year at Grand Valley State where he majored in cybersecurity, was neither depressed nor unhappy with his life at home or at school.

“He’s a funny, quick-witted kid who always has a smile on his face,” his father, Brad, told Dateline. “He has a lot of friends and was looking forward to college life and his future.”

A “Bring Brendan Santo Home” Facebook page has been set up by the family to publicize Brendan’s disappearance and post updates on the case.

“Our hope is to make our son known,” Brendan’s mother, Wendy, told Dateline. “We just have to find him.”

Brendan is described as 5’8 ” tall and weighs 160 lbs. He was last seen wearing gray sweatpants, a black t-shirt, a black baseball cap and white Converse high top shoes.

Anyone with information on Brendan’s whereabouts is urged to call the MSU Police and Public Safety Intelligence Line at 844-99-MSUPD or email tips @ Tips can also be submitted anonymously by texting the word MSUPD, along with the message, to 274637.



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