Parents of missing student Riley Strain say they have not given up hope of finding him

‘We’re very hopeful and we’re moving forward as, you know, he’s coming home and we’re graduating in May and life goes on just as normal,’ Mr Strain’s stepfather said

Kelly Rissman
Sunday 17 March 2024 14:53 GMT
CCTV released by police shows 22-year-old missing student Riley Strain crossing road

The parents of University of Missouri student Riley Strain said they will “continue to search” after more than a week has passed since the college senior vanished.

Mr Strain was last seen on 8 March when he went to Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink bar in Nashville as part of a fraternity trip but was asked to leave the nightspot.

“We’re still, you know, actively planning to bring Riley home with us,” Chris Whiteid, Mr Strain’s stepfather told NBC News on 16 March.

This case has been “taxing” due to them “not getting more updates of what’s going on,” Mr Whiteid said. Still, “we continue to search,” added Mr Whiteid.

“We’re very hopeful and we’re moving forward as, you know, he’s coming home and we’re graduating in May and life goes on just as normal,” he continued.

The college senior is 6’7” tall and weighs 155 to 160 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. He “stands out in a crowd,” Mr Whiteid said.

The stepfather spoke about Mr Strain’s character: “Riley was the guy that knew no strangers. The 22-year-old “would walk up to people, talk to them, full of life,” and is “energetic, had charisma.”

“Everybody loved Riley just because he didn’t care who you were, what group you were with. He was Riley, and you were whoever you were,” Mr Whiteid added.

The parents told NBC News that they have “had some amazing support” from volunteer organisations that have tried to help find their son. Locals have been handing out fliers and “doing anything they can to help find Riley,” Mr Whiteid said.

The parents said that all of the help has “restored our faith in people.”

Michelle and Chris Whiteid arrived in Nashville on 9 March. “It’s hard to be away from home, but we wouldn’t be anywhere else,” Michelle Whiteid told the outlet.

Being in Nashville — where the college senior was last seen — is “as comforting as it can be,” Mr Whiteid said.

Although the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on 13 March that it was investigating whether the college senior had been overserved, on 15 March, the bar owners announced that Mr Strain had just had one alcoholic drink and two waters.

Security then asked the 22-year-old to leave the bar, the owners said.

His friends reportedly spent nine hours looking for him before filing a missing person report with the police.

Nashville police have been on the hunt, using boats and helicopters to scour the waters and banks of the Cumberland River after surveillance footage captured the college student leaving the bar, walking in the opposite direction of the hotel, and toward the river.

In the footage, he appears to be stumbling and holding his head. He had apparently called his friends and told them he would meet them at the Tempo Hotel, where the group was staying.

There has been no evidence so far to suggest that Mr Strain fell into the river. Investigators have also said there are “no signs of foul play.”

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