Body believed to be Brendan Santo found -- What’s next?

Body found believed to be Brendan Santo
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 6:47 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Dive crews recovered a body in the Red Cedar River they believe could be missing teenager Brendan Santo.

Read: Body found in Red Cedar River, less than two miles from where Brendan Santo was last seen

Santo -- a student at Grand Valley State University -- has been missing since Oct. 29, 2021. He had been visiting friends at Yakeley Hall at Michigan State University.

The body was recovered from the Red Cedar River at about 12:30 p.m. Friday, near the end of Clippert Street, just south of Kalamazoo Street, near Green Dot Stables. It was found less than two miles downriver from where Santo was last seen.

Police said it was a difficult area to navigate due to debris in the river.

“It was a very complex and dangerous point of the river to search and it required a lot of resources to do that based on the location, the complexity of that area, and the entanglement hazards and debris,” said Chris Rozman, with MSU Police.

As of Friday evening, Michigan State University Police and Public Safety are waiting for a toxicology report to confirm if the body is Santo.

Police want students to know that there are resources available through MSU’s counseling services, including MSU’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services for students and Employee Assistance Program for employees.

Related: Michigan State University providing mental health resources to students processing recent violence

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss. Our thoughts go out to the Santo family and all those who knew Brendan,” Rozman said. “We ask the public respect the families privacy. Please understand this is an open and active investigation and we are limited in what we can share at this time.”

Police said there is no indication foul play was involved or that Santo intended to hurt himself.

The next step in the investigation is determining if the body is that of Brendan Santo.

What it takes to identify a body

Medical examiners will look at things -- like dental records and DNA -- to try to identify the body and figure out the cause of death.

Dr. Dean Sienko, the former medical examiner for Ingham County, said another big part of the process is communicating with the family to give them answers they’re seeking.

“Our sympathies always go out to the loved ones of the deceased, given the circumstances,” Sienko said. “But we try to present this information to them in a very sensitive way and oftentimes they’re very helpful to us. We need their cooperation and they’re seeking answers too.”

Sienko said medical examiners try to go about this information in a way that is thoughtful and provides closure while getting the information they need for the investigation.

The medical examination, Sienko said, usually takes a few days.

More: Missing in Michigan

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