Body of Riley Strain found in river, no evidence of foul play: Nashville police

Riley Strain, 22, disappeared March 8 during a night out in Nashville.

March 22, 2024, 6:13 PM

The body of missing college student Riley Strain was recovered from the Cumberland River in West Nashville Friday morning following a two-week search, according to Nashville police.

"No foul play-related trauma was observed," police said.

There’s no evidence to suggest anything other than Strain accidentally falling into the river, Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters on Friday.

Strain's body was spotted by workers at the river Friday morning, Drake said. The autopsy will likely be done Saturday, authorities said.

Strain's family thanked everyone involved in the search, from first responders to volunteers to family and friends, during a press briefing Friday evening.

"Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We can't say enough to all of you," his father, Ryan Gilbert, said.

Strain's stepfather, Chris Whiteid, said the ordeal has been an "emotional rollercoaster," and thanked the people of Nashville for their support.

"You don't understand how much that meant to us in some of our darkest hours," he said. "The hugs, the prayers, the offers -- I can't say it enough: thank you."

Strain's mother, in tears, had one message to share: "I just ask that you mamas out there -- hug your babies tight tonight, please. Please, for me."

PHOTO: An undated photo of Riley Strain, 22, who disappeared on March 8 during a night out in Nashville.
An undated photo of Riley Strain, 22, who disappeared on March 8 during a night out in Nashville.
Metro Nashville PD

Strain, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Missouri, went missing on March 8 after a night out at several Nashville bars. Strain and his Delta Chi fraternity brothers were visiting Nashville for their fraternity formal.

While the friends were out that night, Strain FaceTimed his mom and didn't sound intoxicated, Strain's stepfather told ABC News.

Strain and his mom exchanged more texts after the FaceTime call, Chris Whiteid said. The last text Strain sent to his mom that night was, "I love you."

Surveillance cameras and police body cameras captured Strain's last known movements from about 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

PHOTO: Sightings of College Student Riley Strain
Sightings of College Student Riley Strain
ABC News

Strain was reported missing on March 9 and authorities launched a massive search by foot, by drone and by boat.

The United Cajun Navy also arrived in Nashville to help organize volunteer searches.

Strain's stepfather told ABC News on Wednesday that the family was beginning to have difficult conversations.

"Put yourself in our shoes," Chris Whiteid said. "Your family, your brother, your sister -- they've been missing for almost two weeks."

"Everybody knows it, everybody's thinking it -- those conversations are starting to happen," he said. "It's not what we want. And I understand that people want to know what we're feeling -- we're feeling frustrated, we're feeling hurt, we're feeling depressed."

"Nobody knows what happened," he said.