The Ingham County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that accidental drowning caused Brendan Santo’s death.
The 18 year old from Rochester Hills disappeared on October 29 while visiting friends at the Michigan State University Campus.
Santo’s body was found in the Red Cedar River on January 21, after being missing for over 80 days. His body was found after a private investigator hired by his family alerted police to what he believed to be Santos’ body in the river, about a mile and a half downriver from where Santo was last seen.
The autopsy report lists accidental drowning as his cause of death, with acute ethanol intoxication listed as a contributory condition. The report states that Santo had no diseases or injuries.
The Michigan State University Police Department issued a statement Monday, thanking everyone who assisted with the case, and asking that everyone keep the Santo family in their thoughts.
Dana Whyte, a spokesman for the agency added “this remains an open investigation while law enforcement continues to examine the items recovered at the scene, which is routine in an investigation such as this.”
Brendan Santo’s Disappearance
18 year old Brendan Santo was last seen in East Lansing, Michigan on October 29, 2021. He disappeared while visiting friends at Michigan State University during the weekend of the Michigan vs Michigan State football game.
On October 29, 2021, Brendan Santo drove from Grand Valley University to East Lansing to visit friends at Michigan State University over Halloween weekend. The next day also happened to be the big Michigan State University vs. University of Michigan football game.
Santo hung out with friends on the evening of October 29, before deciding to head back to his friend’s dorm where he was staying. Between 11:30 and 11:45 pm, he sent text messages to several friends, telling them he was on his way to join them, before his phone eventually died.
Brenda Santo never showed up at his friend’s dorm, and has never been heard from again.
The next morning his friends filed a missing person’s with the Michigan State University campus police when they couldn’t contact him.
Brendan Santo was last seen leaving Yakeley Hall on Michigan State University’s campus. As security cameras at the entrance of Yakeley Hall were not operational on the night he went missing, they couldn’t capture where he was headed.
Authorities believe Santo was likely walking towards the Brody Neighborhood where he was staying at a friend’s dorm, which is located a half mile away on the west side of campus.
His cell phone, which disappeared with him, last pinged to a cell tower near Michigan Avenue and Beal Street, not far from the Red Cedar River, shortly before midnight.
Surveillance cameras in the area were not working at the time, so there’s no footage showing exactly where he was, or what direction he was walking.
His phone record, bank account, and social media have shown no activity since he disappeared.
Due to the proximity of the Red Cedar River to where Santo disappeared, authorities conducted an extensive search of the area with dive teams searching the river by boat, state police aircrafts, drones, and police dogs.
There were also two civilian searches done with 800+ volunteers on the MSU campus.
His vehicle was located by police in the same spot Santo parked when he arrived at campus for the weekend. Inside the car, a Halloween costume purchased the day before was found. They do not believe he left the East Lansing area.
On January 21, 2022, the Michigan State Police announced they had recovered a body from the Red Cedar River that they believe to be Brendan Santo’s. It was positively identified as Santo’s the following day.
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