Riley Strain last seen jogging towards river – in wrong direction to his Nashville hotel

University of Missouri student Riley Strain has not been seen in two weeks

Martha McHardy
Friday 22 March 2024 13:30 GMT
Riley Strain last seen jogging towards river in new video shown to parents

New security footage captured missing college student Riley Strain jogging towards a river in Nashville in the opposite direction of his hotel, according to his family.

University of Missouri student Mr Strain went missing shortly before 10 pm on 8 March after he was kicked out of a bar in Nashville and became separated from his friends.

With still no sign of the missing 22-year-old, and no explanation for his disappearance, police have sought to piece together his last known movements – releasing surveillance footage of the student stumbling through the downtown area after being kicked out of Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink.

Separate footage taken minutes later was also released showing Mr Strain appearing to walk upright as he interacts with a police officer.

In a post on X, the police department said Mr Strain does not appear distressed during that encounter.

However, images from another surveillance camera appear to show him hitting his head on a pole – and later holding his head.

Now, Mr Strain’s stepfather and family friend Chris Dingman have shed more light on his movements, revealing that they have been shown another video in which the 22-year-old is seen jogging in the opposite direction of his hotel.

“We got to see him walking,” Mr Whiteid told NewsNation of the footage. “We got to see him kind of at a fast pace walk, almost a jog. And it just shortened the last known window of sightings.”

Riley strain was seen in CCTV footage stumbling as he crossed the road towards the Cumberland River (Metro Nashville Police Department)

The footage, which has not been released, is said to show Mr Strain at around 9.57pm standing at a lamppost for six to seven seconds doing something with his phone.

Then, he heads north toward the Robertson Bridge, which spans the Cumberland River.

The bridge is in the opposite direction of Mr Strain’s hotel, his stepfather said.

It is unclear why he was heading in the wrong direction.

However, Mr Whiteid speculated that Mr Strain may have gotten his hotel – Tempo Hotel Riley – muddled with another one with a similar name which was over the other side of the bridge.

“We are we’re still hopeful. We can’t give up hope,” Mr Whiteid said of the search for his stepson, which has now moved to a dam 40 miles from where he was last seen.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) shared a video on Tuesday showing one of their helicopters flying over the Cheatham Dam this week.

In the post, police said: “Our helicopters continue to fly over the Cumberland River in the ongoing search for Riley Strain.

“MNPD and Nashville Emergency Operations boats were on the water again today. The Cheatham Co. Sheriff’s Office is also assisting down river.”

WTVF reported that officers had the dam shut down to inspect any debris that floated up to the surface, but did not find anything related to Mr Strain.

Mr Strain’s parents previously slammed police for doing “a B-minus job” of finding their son, after TikTokers found Mr Strain’s bank card over a week after he went missing.

The 22-year-old’s parents called for the FBI to step in and take over the investigation from the Nashville cops. They also said that they have spoken to the “Cajun Navy,” a group that uses boats to help in rescue efforts following hurricanes and other storms.

“We feel that we need the extra resources to come in and help us as we try and get more organized for our family and see if we can’t bring some more clues to light,” Mr Whiteid said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Police have defended the search efforts and said they respect any evidence the “Cajun Navy” provides, according to News Channel 5.

Mr Strain had been visiting Nashville with friends from his college fraternity, Delta Chi, when he disappeared after being kicked out of Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink, a bar owned by country singer Luke Bryan in the city’s downtown, at about 9.35pm.

While it is not known why he was kicked out. 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 that he had gone to two more bars the same night before he was kicked out of the third.

However, Mr Strain’s stepfather insisted that “he didn’t even sound like he had been drinking a lot,” according to NBC News.

Casting further doubt on theories that his stepson had been suffering from the effects of alcohol on the night he disappeared, Mr Whiteid added: “I’ve done a fair amount of drinking in my life, and I still question whether it was alcohol or something else.”

Riley Strain (AP)

Since his stepson’s disappearance, Mr Whiteaid said he has received messages from up to 10 people who claimed they were drugged while visiting bars in Nashville.

Last week, the last person to potentially see Mr Strain claimed that he caused a “commotion” at a Nashville homeless encampment that night and 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’.’’

Meanwhile, Chris Salisbury, who offers assistance to homeless individuals in the Nashville area told NewsNation that he spoke with someone who saw a homeless man named Ross wearing Mr Strain’s distinctive black and white shirt.

He added that Ross allegedly claimed he had found the shirt hung over a railing and covered in vomit. Ross allegedly wiped off the vomit and began wearing the shirt, according to Mr Salisbury.

Police have reiterated that there is no evidence of foul play in Mr Riley’s disappearance.

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