Visitation being held Thursday in Rochester for Brendan Santo
Rochester — Visitation is being held Thursday for 18-year-old Brendan Santo, a Rochester Hills resident whose body was found Friday in the Red Cedar River three months after he went missing.
Santo's body was identified by the medical examiner Saturday night, MSU police said, after a private investigator working with Santo's family alerted them to the body found in East Lansing.
The teen was among thousands who went to East Lansing on Oct. 29 ahead of a rivalry football game between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.
The Grand Valley State University student vanished shortly before the game, and family, friends, volunteers and law enforcement have been searching for him in the 80 days since.
The family has scheduled visitation for Santo from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at St. Andrew Catholic Church, 1400 Inglewood, in Rochester.
A private funeral and burial service will be held at a later date, according to the Pixley Funeral Home in Rochester, which is handling the arrangements.
Santo attended Brewster Elementary School, Van Hoosen Middle School and graduated from Rochester Adams High School in 2021, according to an obituary posted Monday on the Pixley funeral home website.
Santo played on Rochester Adam's lacrosse team and was on the Rochester United Hockey Team. He had been a freshman at GVSU.
"Brendan was kind, polite, considerate of others, fun, and humble. He was happy to cook a meal to share with friends," the family said in the online obituary. "He had an infectious smile and a great sense of humor. He loved not only his dog Abbey, but all dogs."
Searches for Santo began within a day after the teen left Yakeley Hall, on the northern edge of campus near Michigan Avenue, where police say the teen was last spotted walking away shortly before midnight.
Police said they had planned to search that area of the river the following week but the tip from private investigator Ryan Robison at about midnight Friday led them to close off the area and begin assembling dive resources within an hour of notification.
The search, which began at first light, resulted in the recovery of a body at about 12:30 p.m. Friday in an area of the river near the intersections of Kalamazoo and Clippert streets in Lansing.
Robison had been working with the Santo family and was reviewing underwater video of the area when "he saw something completely submerged in the water at the logjam," according to the statement from MSU police. Robison told the Santo family, then contacted 911 centers in Ingham and Oakland counties, police said.
In a statement Saturday, MSU police said it wasn't their intention to hide Robison's role in the investigation. The department said it hadn't named Robison publicly because they weren't sure if he or the Santo family wanted the information public.
The investigation into Santo's disappearance remains active, but police do not believe Santo intended to harm himself or that there was foul play involved.
Santo is survived by his parents Brad and Wendy Santo, his sibling, Hailey; grandparents Kathy and Thomas Santo, Mauri and Mickey Rose and many other relatives and friends.
In lieu of sending flowers, the family asks the memorial tributes be made to local first responders or an animal shelter in Santo's name.