Confusing last text message sent by missing student Riley Strain revealed: ‘Good lops’

The 22-year-old vanished on 8 March after being kicked out of a bar and becoming separated from his friends

Martha McHardy
Thursday 21 March 2024 07:47 GMT
Confusing last text message sent by missing student Riley Strain revealed

Missing University of Missouri student Riley Strain’s last text message before his disappearance has been revealed.

The 22-year-old vanished shortly before 10 pm on 8 March after being kicked out of a bar and becoming separated from his friends.

Search efforts were launched after the student’s friends reported him missing but so far police have found no trace of Mr Strain other than his bank card, which was found near the Cumberland River in Nashville more than one week after he vanished.

It is not known why Mr Strain was kicked out of Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink, which is owned by country singer Luke Bryan, but the bar said in a statement that he was removed “based on our conduct standards.” It added that Mr Strain was served only one alcoholic drink and two waters.

Since then, the 22-year-old’s stepfather has revealed that Mr Strain FaceTimed his mother on the night of his disappearance and revealed that he had gone to two more bars the same night before he was kicked out of a third. However, Mr Strain’s stepfather insisted that “he didn’t even sound like he had been drinking a lot,” according to NBC News.

As more information emerges about Mr Strain’s movements in the hours before his disappearance, Chris Dingman, a family friend, has revealed the student’s final communication —a confusing text to a girl he was speaking with.

“She texted him to see how he was doing, if he was having fun. He sent kind of a scripted text back to her saying ‘Good lops,’” Mr Dingman told News Nation.

Missing student Riley Strain
Missing student Riley Strain (AP)

Mr Dingman said neither he nor the girl appeared to understand what Mr Strain meant by his text message, adding that he believes it to reflect Mr Riley’s apparent mental state.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Dingam revealed that Mr Strain’s family had been shown CCTV footage from the night of his disappearance, adding that “several businesses’ offered their own security footage down the route where Riley was last seen.”

He claimed that Mr Strain was seen on the security footage being escorted out of the bar by a fraternity brother who then returned inside. He said the 22-year-old “was asked to leave not because of a fight, or any type of altercation” but said he couldn’t give further detail.

Mr Dingman added that Mr Strain could then be seen going across the street, where he was denied entrance to another bar before going off on “his journey.”

The Nashville Police Department last week released CCTV footage that showed Mr Strain stumbling and falling over as he crossed the road and walked down Gay Street, close to where he vanished.

Riley Strain is seen stumbling in CCTV footage close to where he was last seen
Riley Strain is seen stumbling in CCTV footage close to where he was last seen (KSHB)

However, footage from minutes later shows Mr Strain appearing to walk upright as he talks to a police officer at about 9.52 pm who asks him how he is doing, to which he replies, “I’m good, how are you?”

In a post on X, the police department said Mr Strain does not appear distressed in the footage.

Following the release of the new footage, police spokesperson Don Aaron reiterated that there is no evidence of foul play in Mr Riley’s disappearance.

“To those who are saying that they believe he could have been in distress, that somebody could have been after him as he walked onto Gay Street, well, as you see in the video, he’s walking by himself on the river side and speaks to a police officer as the officer is looking at a vehicle that had been broken into,” Mr Aaron said.

He added that the investigation is ongoing and that no video of Mr Strain walking on Gay Street after 9:52 pm has been obtained.

Mr Strain had been visiting Nashville with friends from his college fraternity, Delta Chi, when he disappeared.

The last person to potentially see Mr Strain claimed that he caused a “commotion” at a Nashville homeless encampment on the night of 8 March where his bank card was found, adding that he was “very intoxicated.”

“We heard a commotion. We looked back up. He almost fell over. The last bush right there caught him,” an unidentified man who lives in the camp told WZTV.

“He was very, very, very intoxicated. I never seen anybody stumble that hard before,” the man added. “I yelled get up. They said, ‘He’s just drunk. He’s okay’.’’

However, Mr Strain’s stepfather, Chris Whiteid, cast doubt on theories that his stepson had been suffering from the effects of alcohol on the night he disappeared.

“I’ve done a fair amount of drinking in my life, and I still question whether it was alcohol or something else,” Mr Whiteid told NBC News, referring to how Mr Strain appeared to have lost control of his balance in CCTV footage.

Mr Whiteid also claimed that since his stepson’s disappearance, he has received messages from up to 10 people who claimed they were drugged while visiting bars in Nashville, according to NBC News.

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