‘Our family is desperately begging anyone with information to come forward even anonymously,’ aunt says
A $20,000 reward has been offered to anyone who can provide information that leads to the finding of 18-year-old student Brendan Santo, who disappeared almost three months ago.
Mr Santo vanished on 29 October last year in East Lansing on the campus of Michigan State University.
“We just want Brendan back,” his family told ABC News.
There are still no indications as to what happened to the Grand Valley University student over Halloween weekend.
“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.
Law enforcement has said that he was wearing grey sweatpants, a black t-shirt, a Detroit Red Wings hat, Converse high sneakers, and that he’s about 5 foot 10 and 160 pounds (178 cm and 73 kg).
Mr Santo’s 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’s nothing to suggest that he left East Lansing.
The FBI joined the search alongside agencies on the state and local levels. They have searched for Mr Santo by foot, drone, helicopter, and boat. Law enforcement also used dogs to try to find Mr Santo.
The work of several cadaver dogs, Mr Santo’s last known location, and his digital footprint have led law enforcement to focus on the Red Cedar River, which runs through East Lansing. But police have said that they are also looking into other options.
“As a parent, family member or friend, you want to turn over every boulder as fast as you can to get the information you need to find your loved one. We understand an investigation like this can take time, but it has been very difficult,” Mr Santo’s aunt told ABC.
Since he disappeared, no one has seen Mr Santo and none of his belongings have been discovered, despite volunteers searching for him, with charity events and fundraisers raising awareness for the case, including via social media.
Two civilian searches have been conducted by more than 800 volunteers. Students and locals have carried on searching every day, the family has said.
“Many of these people do not know Brendan or our family, but have taken the time and energy to help us every day … our family continues to be overwhelmed by their support and dedication,” Ms Brewer told ABC News.
“Our family continues to have hope and pray he will be returned safely,” Ms Brewer added.
Anyone with information about Mr Santo is encouraged to call 844-99-MSUPD (844-996-7873), to email firstname.lastname@example.org or to call Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan at 517-483-STOP (7867).