Mystery over Riley Strain’s last text as family friend pours cold water on ‘good lops’ theory

A family friend of missing student Riley Strain dismissed one theory about the meaning of his final text

Martha McHardy
Thursday 21 March 2024 07:50 GMT
Riley Strain’s family friend downplays importance of missing student's last text

The mystery surrounding Riley Strain’s last text message continues after a family friend poured cold water on online theories about its meaning.

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.

Search efforts have so far fallen flat with no trace of the missing 22-year-old other than the discovery of his bank card, which was found near the Cumberland River in Nashville over one week after he was last seen.

As more information continues to emerge about Mr Strain’s last known movements, family friend Chris Dingman has revealed the final text message the student sent.

He told NewsNation Mr Strain sent a confusing text to a girl he was speaking with who “texted him to see how he was doing”. Mr Strain responded with: “Good lops.”

Mr Dingman said that neither he nor the girl know what Mr Strain meant by his text message, adding that he believes it could reflect Mr Strain’s apparent mental state at the time.

Some social media users have speculated that “lops” could be an acronym for “low on power, sorry”.

However, Mr Dingman poured cold water on that theory on Tuesday – saying that the student’s phone was not low on battery.

Riley Strain went missing after leaving a bar
Riley Strain went missing after leaving a bar (AP)

“What we have been told is the phone did not die due to battery capacity,” Mr Dingman told NewsNation – adding that it “wasn’t even at five percent, which some kids run around on and frustrates us as parents”.

He also went into further detail as to why Mr Strain was ejected from Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink, which is owned by country singer Luke Bryan.

Mr Dingman said it was not due to a confrontation but an employee who “felt like, you know, maybe he had had enough”.

The bar previously said in a statement that Mr Strain was removed “based on our conduct standards” and that Mr Strain was served only one alcoholic drink and two waters by its staff.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Dingam revealed that Mr Strain’s family had been shown surveillance 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 footage showing Mr Strain stumbling and falling over as he crossed the road and walked down Gay Street, close to where he vanished.

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

Riley Strain was last seen wearing this shirt while on a night out in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday 8 March 2024
Riley Strain was last seen wearing this shirt while on a night out in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday 8 March 2024 (Metropolitan Nashville Police Department)

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 9:52pm 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 the footage.

Mr Whiteaid also revealed that Mr Strain FaceTimed his mother on the night of his disappearance and “didn’t even sound like he had been drinking a lot”. He also revealed that the student had gone to two more bars prior to the third, where he was kicked out.

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, according to NBC News.

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