New witnesses reveal encounter with Missouri student Riley Strain on night he went missing

Couple says they checked that student wasn’t planning to drive that night

Amelia Neath,Martha McHardy
Thursday 21 March 2024 12:25 GMT
911 call reveals new details of Riley Strain’s Nashville disappearance
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New witnesses have come forward to reveal that they encountered missing student Riley Strain on the night he went missing.

Chris Dingman, a close friend of the 22-year-old’s family, spoke with NewsNation on Wednesday – almost two weeks on from his 8 March disappearance.

Mr Dingman revealed that a couple, who are parents themselves, had been in touch with Mr Strain’s family to say that they spoke to the student that night.

“The mother reached out, she saw Riley, she made a comment, like, ‘You’re not driving tonight?’ and he goes, ‘No ma’am,” Mr Dingman said of the encounter.

“That is literally incredible news that we’ve gotten,” Mr Dingman added.

He said that the couple had also contacted Nashville police to turn over the information.

Mr Strain was on a trip to Nashville with friends from his college fraternity, Delta Chi.

On the night of 8 March, the group went out to bars in the downtown area.

But, just before 10pm, Mr Strain was kicked out of Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink – which is owned by country singer Luke Bryan – and became separated from his friends.

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 (Metro Nashville Police Department)

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.

Mr Dingman previously said he was not removed due to “a fight or any type of altercation” but that an employee “felt like, you know, maybe he had had enough”.

He followed this up on Wednesday, telling the news outlet that Mr Strain was “trying to help somebody, there was miscommunication with the staff and possibly the actual bar”.

“When Riley was asked to leave, he walked out, they’re on film showing him, there was no confrontation with security,” he added.

He also acknowledged that before going to Luke’s, the students had been to another bar, but it was unclear how much alcohol he had drunk.

Mr Dingman said it is unclear when exactly the couple interacted with Mr Strain during the night – notably whether it was before or after surveillance footage captured the missing student walking not far from the river.

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.

Mr Strain was also spotted by a police officer minutes later – with bodycam footage showing the officer greeting Mr Strain and asking him how he was doing.

“I’m good, how are you?” Mr Strain replies and continues walking, the video shows.

Riley Strain dissappeared after leaving a bar on 8 March
Riley Strain dissappeared after leaving a bar on 8 March (AP/KSHB)

A person also claimed to have seen Mr Strain causing a “commotion” at a Nashville homeless encampment, who said he was “very intoxicated.”

Chris Whiteid, the missing student’s stepfather, told NBC News he had gone to two more bars prior to the third, where he was kicked out; however, he has questioned “whether it was alcohol or something else,” referring to how Mr Strain appeared to have lost control of his balance in the footage.

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, NBC News said.

Police spokesperson Don Aaron has said 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.

The investigation and search is ongoing.

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