Body of missing Missouri student Riley Strain found in Nashville river

The body of missing University of Missouri student Riley Strain has been located in West Nashville after he disappeared two weeks ago.

Authorities discovered Strain’s body approximately 8 miles from downtown Nashville in the Cumberland River, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said at a press conference. Workers were removing an object from the river when they stumbled upon Strain’s body.

According to police, Strain was wearing his distinctive black and white shirt when he was found, contradicting earlier claims by that the shirt had been taken and worn by a man named Ross.

An initial autopsy revealed there were no signs of foul play-related trauma, local outlet WKRN reports.

Mr Drake made note of a grim detail during the presser that could shed some light on why it took so long to find Strain; a body matching Strain’s height and weight would typically take approximately 14 to 20 days to surface after being submerged in a body of water. He said the police were expecting to find him sometime this week as a result.

Strain, 22, was visiting Nashville with his fraternity brothers for an annual spring formal trip. On 8 March, he was kicked out of country star Luke Bryan's 32 Bridge Food + Drink, reportedly for being intoxicated.

After being kicked out, Strain spoke with his friends on the phone and told them he would return to their hotel. Rather than doing so, he began walking in the opposite direction, toward the Cumberland River.

Riley Strain’s body was recovered on 22 March (Chris Whiteid via AP/Metro Nashville PD)
Riley Strain’s body was recovered on 22 March (Chris Whiteid via AP/Metro Nashville PD)

The last signal sent from Strain's phone placed him in the proximity of a park located near the river's banks.

Strain's friends eventually realised that he had not returned to the hotel. They called 911 to report Strain missing at 1.46 am on Saturday, 9 March.

That kicked off a two week search in Nashville. Police, volunteers, and Strain's friends and family from Missouri wandered the streets and questioned locals in an attempt to find the missing student.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department used sonar-equipped boats to search the Cumberlands River's waters for any sign of Strain while a helicopter and drone inspected the nearby riverbanks.

Those searches turned up no evidence that Strain had fallen into the river.

Police continued to push for answers, and told the public relatively early that they believed there had been no foul play involved in the student's disappearance.

Two women assisting in the search for Strain eventually discovered his bank card discarded on the banks of the Cumberland River. Homeless residents told police they'd seen him wandering near the banks on the night of the disappearance, and eventually even a police officer revealed he'd had a chance, albeit brief, encounter with the student the night he disappeared.

A candlelight vigil for Riley Strain, held on the same street where footage last captured him alive (AP)
A candlelight vigil for Riley Strain, held on the same street where footage last captured him alive (AP)

The night his body was found, Nashville residents held a candlelight vigil for Strain on Gay Street, where he was last seen by surveillance footage. Strain’s family also held a press conference thanking the Nashville community for their support during the two-week search for the student.

“I want to reiterate how thankful we are for everyone and how much we appreciate everyone’s support, love and prayers,” Riley Strain’s mother, Michelle Whiteid, said.

“I just ask that you mamas out there hug your babies tight tonight, please, for me,” she continued.