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Nashville PD: Mizzou student Riley Strain still missing despite intensive search

Riley Strain
Riley Strain
Posted at 3:04 PM, Mar 14, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The search for a University of Missouri student who went missing on a trip to Nashville with friends entered its sixth day and police in Tennessee said they’re still baffled.

Nashville Police Sgt. Robert Nielsen with the Cold Case Squad in the department’s Homicide Unit said there’s no indication of foul play, but there’s also no new information about where Riley Strain wound up after he was asked to leave a downtown bar shortly before 10 p.m. on Friday, March 8.

A review of surveillance footage in and around downtown shows Strain, 22, of Springfield, Missouri, walking in the area between two bridges over the Cumberland River near Gay Street and 1st Avenue North just north of the Woodland Street Bridge. He is never spotted by surveillance cameras north of the James Robertson Parkway bridge.

RELATED | Video captures missing student minutes before he was last seen

The bridges are located about a half-mile north of Luke’s 32 Bridge, a bar and entertainment venue owned by country music singer Luke Bryan.

“There is absolutely no indication whatsoever of foul play or anybody else involved,” Nielsen said Thursday during a press conference in Nashville.

He categorized Strain’s case as strictly a missing-persons case at this point.

Nashville Urban Search and Rescue and the local Office of Emergency Management have assisted with search of the Cumberland River and steep river banks nearby, providing boats with sonar capability and drones to aid in efforts to find Strain.

Nielsen said they’ve conducted “multiple sweeps” and spoken with witnesses, including people who live at a homeless encampment between the two bridges.

Private search crews, including the Cajun Navy, also have assisted law enforcement.

Search teams have checked storm drains and “dilapidated buildings” in the area, while continuing to hold out hope Strain will be found alive.

Nielsen revealed that Strain’s cell phone also pinged a tower on the other side of the river near a Topgolf location the night he went missing, but he noted that tower has a two-mile radius that spans both sides of the river, including the area where Strain was last seen.

Police are still waiting for phone records and records related to Strain’s Apple Watch, which has a separate phone number. Both devices last pinged a tower between 9:55 and 10 p.m. the night he went missing and Apple is cooperating in providing investigators records.

There has been no activity detected from either device since, according to Nielsen, who said there is currently no criminal investigation related to Strain’s disappearance.

“Right now, we have no idea what happened with this gentlemen,” Nielsen said. “All of our resources are dedicated to finding him.”

Police said there’s no indication that Strain got into a fight or argument at the bar or on the street after he walked away with his friends still inside.

There’s also no indication he utilized a rideshare service at any point, though family and investigators have reached out to see if any of those services have additional video that could help in the search.

Strain’s friends reported him missing on Saturday after he never returned to the hotel and they couldn’t reach him by phone the next morning. His location was no longer available on Snapchat and calls went straight to voicemail.

RELATED | Audio reveals 911 call made day after Strain went missing

“The safety of our community is our highest priority,” Angela King Taylor, Missouri’s interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said in a news release. “Our thoughts are with Riley’s family as the search continues. We will be offering any support to them that we can, and we encourage anyone who needs help to reach out to our counseling resources.”