Timeline of Missouri student Riley Strain tragic disappearance and death

Nashville police said they do not believe there was any foul play in Riley Strain’s death

Graig Graziosi,Katie Hawkinson
Sunday 24 March 2024 14:14 GMT
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Authorities recover Riley Strain’s body from the Cumberland River

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The search for missing student Riley Strain took a tragic turn on Friday 22 March when his body was recovered from the Cumberland River in Nashville.

The 22-year-old student was visiting Nashville with friends for his fraternity's spring formal trip.

On the night of 8 March, he was kicked out of country singer Luke Bryan's 32 Bridge Food + Drink and became separated from his friends.

He was never seen or heard from again.

For the next two weeks, multiple law enforcement agencies, air and dive teams, and the University of Missouri senior’s family desperately searched for answers as to his whereabouts.

Then, the search ended with tragedy with the discovery of Strain’s body. A preliminary autopsy shows no signs of foul play, local outlet WKRN reports.

Here’s a timeline of the case:

Timeline of Riley Strain’s disappearance and death
Timeline of Riley Strain’s disappearance and death (The Independent)

8 March – evening

Strain, a native of Springfield, Missouri, and his friends go out in Nashville. After going to a couple of bars, they visit Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink, a bar owned by country music star Luke Bryan.

8 March – 9.30pm

Strain is escorted out of 32 Bridge. His friends remain at the bar. The bar later says he was removed based on “conduct standards,” and that he had only been served a single alcoholic drink and two waters by staff there.

8 March – 9.47pm

Security footage from the downtown area shows Strain walking in the opposite direction to his hotel. In the footage, he appears to be stumbling and holding his head. At some point, Strain is also spotted by a Metro Nashville Police released on 18 March, who he has a brief interaction with. The officer greets Strain and asks him how he is doing. Strain says he is fine and continues walking.

8 March – 9.52pm

Another security camera captures Strain walking near Gay Street. It is the last video footage to capture Strain.

8 March – 9.53pm

Life360, a location-sharing app installed on Strain’s cellphone, tracks him to a few blocks north of Gay Street and James Robertson Parkway. His route continues to take him further away from his hotel.

8 March – 10pm-10.30pm

Strain's phone pings near Public Square Park, which is located near the Cumberland River. This is the last signal sent from his phone.

9 March

Strain's friends learn he did not make it back to his hotel and begin searching for him. At 1.46pm, they report him missing.

10 March – 11 March

Police launch search for Strain, first checking local hospitals and jails to see if he was picked up by police or had been injured and transported to a facility for medical treatment.

Their searches fail to turn up any information on Strain's whereabouts.

12 March

Police begin to search the Cumberland River for any sign of the missing student, due to the discovery of footage placing him close to the river. A Metropolitan Nashville Police Department helicopter, a drone, and boats with sonar devices are used to search the waters and the banks of the river for him.

13 March

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission announces it is investigating whether or not Strain had been served alcohol while visibly intoxicated at 32 Bridge Food + Drink. A vigil is held for Strain in Springfield, Missouri.

14 March

At a press conference, police reveal that homeless residents at two encampments near the Cumberland River saw Strain on the night he disappeared. The witnesses were unsure as to where he went after they spotted him, police say. Police also state that there is no indication of any kind of foul play or criminal activity tied to Strain's disappearance.

17 March

A pair of TikTokers searching for Strain find his bank card among brush and garbage on the bank of the Cumberland River. Police determine that no purchases have been made on the card since Strain was last seen.

A body is discovered floating in the Cumberland River. However, police determine it does not match Strain’s description.

18 March

Nashville police releases body camera footage showing an interaction between Strain and a police officer on the night of his disappearance.

19 March

Strain’s family friend, Chris Dingman, tells NewsNation that the final text sent from his phone before his disappearance was to a woman he’d been speaking with. She asked him how he was doing and if he was having fun, to which he reportedly replied “Good lops.” It’s unclear what the text meant.

Strain’s family also holds a press conference announcing that the United Cajun Navy will be coordinating the volunteer search effort. Dave Flagg, who runs the disaster relief organisation, says it is bringing a hoverboat and more volunteers to assist in the ground search.

20 March

Police focus their search for Strain at the Cheatham Lock and Dam near Ashland City. The dam’s operations are temporarily suspended to allow law enforcement to search the area where the dam empties into Cheatham Lake.

21 March

Police obtain new surveillance footage from the James Robertson Parkway bridge, which spans the Cumberland River. The footage reportedly shows Strain approaching the bridge. Police do not release the footage to the public, but the family is shown it.

22 March

At around 7.30am, workers on the Cumberland River discover a body while removing an object from the water. Police then determine the body is Strain. Police said there were no signs of foul play upon initial review or during a preliminary autopsy, which local outlet WKRN reports has been complete.d

Strain’s family spoke at a press conference that evening, thanking the Nashville community for their “love” and “grace” during the search.

The Nashville community also held a candlelight vigil for Strain on Gay Street, where he was last seen in surveillance footage.

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