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No foul play suspected after college student Riley Strain’s body is found in a Nashville river, police say

The body of a University of Missouri student who went missing after leaving a downtown Nashville bar two weeks ago was found Friday in the Cumberland River, police said. There were no signs of foul play.

Riley Strain, 22, was on a weekend trip to the Tennessee city when he was kicked out of Luke’s 32 Bridge, country singer Luke Bryan’s bar, on March 8, authorities said.

Strain’s friends and family had since been unable to reach him, and police searches had been unsuccessful.

Metro Nashville Police Department Police Chief John Drake said Friday Strain’s body was found about 7:30 a.m. local time after it was spotted by a worker in the area.

“There is no other evidence to suggest anything other than” the young man falling into the river, Drake said.

University of Missouri President Mun Choi informed students and staff in a statement Friday that Strain’s body had been found. Counseling and supports services were available, he said.

“As the Mizzou community mourns Riley, we are keeping his family in our thoughts and offering support,” Choi said.

The medical examiner’s office confirmed the body was that of Strain, said Drake, adding that a shirt, a watch and other “identifying factors” helped police make the identification. Drake said an autopsy was pending, and Strain’s family had been contacted.

Riley Strain - Metro Nashville Police Department
Riley Strain - Metro Nashville Police Department

The body was recovered from the river about 8 miles from downtown, police said.

Drake said police had planned to search the area where the body was found Friday morning.

“We have reports that, normally, under these circumstances, with his height and weight, that he could have surfaced between 14 and 20 days. This is the 14th day, so we were really expecting anytime soon to find him,” Drake said.

“So we were in the right spot. It’s just unfortunate,” the chief added.

Strain was last seen on March 8 at 9:52 p.m. on Gay Street after drinking downtown, according to a police department social media post.

“The bartender said he had been overserved,” Strain’s stepfather, Chris Whiteid, told CNN affiliate WZTV. “He was trying to pay his tab.”

Strain’s bank card had been found on an embankment between Gay Street and the Cumberland River, Nashville police said Sunday.

On Monday, the department released bodycam video of an encounter Strain had with a police officer the night he disappeared.

The video showed “Strain’s brief exchange of greetings with Officer Reginald Young on Gay Street, south of the Woodland Street bridge,” the department said.

“Riley did not appear distressed. Officer Young was there on a vehicle burglary call and remained on that portion of Gay Street for 45 minutes. No video has been discovered that shows Riley away from Gay Street after the 9:52 p.m. timeframe,” according to the social media post.

Police previously released surveillance video showing Strain wearing a two-tone shirt, crossing a street at 9:47 p.m. The area was searched by ground and helicopter.

Though Strain’s cell phone was off by the time police were looking for him, Verizon Wireless said the last known location of the phone was less than a mile from a cell tower located at 19 Oldham Street, according to a police report. Police said they searched that area without success.

State alcohol commission investigating

Bryan said in an Instagram post last week that he was praying for Strain’s safe return.

Luke’s 32 Bridge told CNN in a statement that Strain was served one alcoholic drink and two waters during his time at the bar.

“At 9:38 p.m., our security team made a decision based on our conduct standards to escort him from the venue through our Broadway exit at the front of our building,” the statement read, adding that Strain was followed down the stairs by a member of his party, who did not leave the bar and returned upstairs.

The Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission said in a statement it is investigating.

“There are no specific rules or statutes that governs escorting out intoxicated patrons from their businesses or providing assistance in getting someone home,” Aaron Rummage, the commission’s director of legislation, policy and communication, said in the statement.

“However, state law prohibits serving alcoholic beverages to someone who is visibly intoxicated. A violation is a class A misdemeanor. The TABC has opened an investigation into this matter to see if any violations have occurred.”

Strain was in Nashville attending a private event, the University of Missouri said in a statement, adding that university officials were in touch with his family and Nashville authorities.

Strain’s stepfather had said the disappearance is the family’s worst nightmare.

“He talks to his mom three or four times a day,” he told WZTV. “For him to go this long without talking is not normal by any means.”

“He’s my baby,” Strain’s mother, Michelle Whiteid, told the station.

Through tears, the grieving parent thanked everyone for their prayers and support over the past two weeks as police searched for him, according to CNN affiliate WSMV.

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

This story has been updated with additional information.

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