Family searching for missing Mizzou student last seen in Nashville

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Missouri family is desperate for answers after a University of Missouri student went missing while visiting Nashville over the weekend.

The family of 22-year-old Riley Strain rushed to Nashville in an attempt to gather any information about his whereabouts. They told WKRN he was in Nashville for a fraternity conference.

Authorities described Strain as 6-feet, 5-inches tall and 160 pounds, with blue eyes and blonde hair. He was last seen wearing a brown button-up shirt with a black chest pocket with blue jeans, brown boots and a black Apple watch.

According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, officers were alerted about Strain's disappearance on Saturday. They were called to the Tempo Hotel, located off Broadway and Rosa L. Parks Boulevard.

While at the hotel, officers spoke to one of Strain's friends who reportedly told them the group he was out with last saw Strain on Friday, getting kicked out of Luke Bryan's bar on Broadway.

Police records state his friend group tried to use Strain's Snapchat location to find him, but were unable to see him in the area of the last reported location.

According to MNPD, Strain's parents came to Nashville after friends informed them of his disappearance.

"When we got into town Saturday evening, we met with an officer, and he has been amazing as far as I'm concerned," said Chris Whiteid, Strain's stepfather. "He made phone calls, he radioed people to go check locations while he was with us. He was also making phone calls, and he sent the report out and it hit the national database. I felt like things were handled very well, and he was very helpful."

Authorities said Strain's cellphone provider was not able to get a "live ping" due to the phone being off. MNPD said his service provider was able to give law enforcement his last location, which pinged near a cell tower located at 19 Oldham St.

Strain's family tracked his last cellphone location to Gay Street and James Robertson Parkway, which is very close to the cell tower and less than a mile from Luke Bryan's bar on Broadway.

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Whiteid said the family is now working with an MNPD detective to start piecing together a path to where Strain was last seen.

"We know the timeframe between when he left the bar and when his last phone ping was," Whiteid said. "We know that we can take the search window down considerably for being able to find him on-camera, so they are working to pull camera footage from around the courthouse and all the downtown area."

Several officers drove around the area, but were unable to find any sightings of the 22-year-old, officials said.

Strain's mother, Michelle Whiteid, said it's unlike him to be out of contact for this long.

"He contacts me all the time," Whiteid said. "He's always texting me, calling me, FaceTiming me. He's always in touch with me. He's very communicative."

Chris Whiteid said Strain was on FaceTime with him and his mother between 7:30 and 8:15 p.m. that Friday night before he went missing.

"He FaceTimed his mother with one of his friends that was with him at the bar," Whiteid said. "I could hear him. He was having fun. He wasn't extremely intoxicated or anything, he was just out having a good time."

Strain's stepmother, Milli Gilbert, is one of seven family members in town from Springfield, Missouri, searching for their loved one. She said it's been difficult being in an unfamiliar area.

"All the officers and everybody that's reached out to us to help has been wonderful," Gilbert said. "It's just a little more strength to keep going. It's really hard when you don't have the contacts of people when you're out of your own hometown. Thank you to everybody that's helped us."

Whiteid described her son as fun and outgoing. She said their family is doing everything they can to remain optimistic as they continue to search for Strain.

"He's a great kid," Whiteid said. "We miss him and we want him back so bad. If anyone sees anything, please just call the police."

Strain's family told WKRN he's a senior business student at Mizzou. He's set to graduate this May.