A body has reportedly been recovered from a river in the search for missing teen Brendan Santo, who disappeared in October while visiting friends at Michigan State University.
Local media reports that a planned search of a river was executed earlier than scheduled after a private investigator spotted a body on an underwater camera.
The 18-year-old Grand Valley State University student was visiting MSU’s East Lansing campus when he went missing over Halloween weekend on 29 October 2021.
Authorities focused their search on the Red Cedar River, which runs through the campus, as he was last seen walking near it on the day he went missing. At the time the river’s height was higher than usual.
Michigan State University Police inspector Chris Rozman said in a statement on Saturday that a private investigator working with the Santo family believed he spotted what looked like Mr Santo’s body submerged in the river, caught at a logjam, while looking at an underwater camera.
Private investigator Ryan Robison notified police of his findings around midnight on Thursday, and authorities were “in the water at first light to begin the recovery process” on Friday, Mr Rozman said.
A search of that area of the river was planned for 24 January and was brought forward. The river in that area was reportedly filled with branches, brush, and other debris that had gathered and needed to be cleared for police to safely get a boat and divers into the water.
The body, believed to be that of Mr Santo, was recovered from the river at about 12.30pm on Friday, about a mile and a half west of where he was last seen.
A $20,000 reward had been offered to anyone who could help officials locate Mr Santo.
“It is unfathomable to believe in this day and age someone can just disappear,” aunt Dawn Brewer told ABC. “Our family is desperately begging anyone with information to come forward even anonymously.”
Mr Santo was last spotted leaving Yakeley Hall on the university campus shortly before midnight on 29 October.
His friends think he was going to the Brody neighbourhood to stay with other friends, but he never got there. His phone had run out of battery power when he disappeared, with his last message being sent at 11.45pm.
The Michigan State University Police Department (MSUPD) has said that the security cameras at Yakeley Hall weren’t working the night that Mr Santo vanished.
“Finding out what happened after Brendan left Yakeley Hall is the key to finding Brendan, or at the least adding another piece to this horrible puzzle,” Ms Brewer said.
Mr Santo was reported missing the next morning by his friends. MSUPD has said that his car remained where it had been parked and that there was nothing to suggest that he left East Lansing.
No foul play is suspected at this time. An autopsy will be performed soon.