Missing 18-year-old visits Michigan State University

January 21 Update: Since this story aired, there have been updates in the case. Click here to read the latest.

(NewsNation Now) – It’s been nearly three months since 18-year-old Brendan Santo disappeared while visiting friends in East Lansing, Michigan.

On the cold and freezing campus of Michigan State University, a burning hope drives loved ones to search for answers.

“The challenge for us is going to bed every night not knowing where your son is,” said Brendan’s father, Brad Santo. “It’s hard.”

The Santo family has been returning to the Michigan State campus nearly every day since last October, retracing the steps and forming theories in an effort to piece together the missing pieces of a puzzle.

“I tried to climb the wire there,” Santo’s father said as he tried to retrace his son’s steps. “It just doesn’t seem like it, he’s obviously a lot younger than me, it’s just not an easy thing, not easy to get over.”

Santo’s father said he’s walked these streets hundreds of times — for hundreds of miles — since his wife received the call Oct. 30 telling her their son had been missing from MSU’s campus for 4 p.m. .

The family tried “to call the hospitals, you know everything, everything a parent would go through.”

“We didn’t know what to think,” he said. “It’s just out of character, out of character for him”

Santo is a freshman at Grand Valley State University, a school about an hour’s drive west.

He made the trip to MSU last October to visit friends over Halloween weekend and watch one of the biggest college football games of the season.

“It was the day before the big football game, MSU vs. (University of Michigan). It was Halloween weekend and it was really coming out a bit of COVID, just as some regulations were being relaxed,” said MSU Police and Public Safety Inspector Chris Rozman.

Amid a party scene on the night of October 29, Santo left a gathering of friends at a residence around midnight.

His phone data shows that he was planning to meet another friend who happened to be nearby.

Santo was in the area just outside the residence hall when the data signals and all sightings of the freshman stopped.

“We know he didn’t run away, we’re pretty confident,” Santo’s father said. “So it’s one of three things: either it’s in the river, or someone took it, or something else happened.”

Scouring land and water for clues, hundreds of professional investigators and volunteers joined the effort to help find Brendan Santo.

“At this time, our investigation has been reviewed by our local, state and federal partners and we still have no reason to believe that foul play is involved and that is where the matter stands at this time.” , said Rozman.

Police and dive teams from more than five counties in the state focused their efforts on a river in the same vicinity where Santo’s cellphone was last detected.

“At the start of the investigation, we used several K9 teams as part of our search efforts and had several cadaver dogs marked on the Red Cedar River in the area where Brendan was last seen,” said Rozman said.

“I just don’t know because these dogs aren’t specific to a person, it’s just to a body, and I know other people have fallen in the river, so this smell can last forever,” said said Santo’s father.

Part of the riverfront where authorities are searching has a steep drop from the sidewalk. One theory is that Santo fell down the slope and into the water by mistake. But after months of searching, no evidence has been uncovered.

“There’s so much down there that if you happened to come across that embankment, it would be hard not to get caught out somehow,” Santo’s father said. “You would think his hat would have exploded if he had fallen on one of the banks.”

“It’s always important, when we do our job, we carry some hope and we don’t make any assumptions, and that’s what we do, and we are committed to bringing Brendan home and solving this case,” Rozman said. .

Santo’s family is asking the nation to be on the lookout, pleading for any additional information from the local community.

“It’s so frustrating that no one has come forward,” Santo’s father said. “The police need this tip, this information to continue to follow something.”

Brad Santo describes his son as independent and funny, a sports fan and close to his family.

Since Santo’s disappearance, his father has been away from work and focused his full-time efforts on research.

To keep his job, he will soon have to return to work.

For now, however, he’s taking it one day at a time, saying he’ll never stop looking for his son.

“Obviously the longer it goes on the harder it gets, but we try to keep hope alive,” said Brad Santo. “You know, it’s our choice.”

Anyone who sees or hears Santo should call the MSUPD tip line at 844-996-7873 or you can email [email protected]

You can also contact Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan at 517-483-7867.