A Missouri family is heartbroken after learning the fate of 22-year-old Riley Strain following a nearly two-week search effort in Nashville.

The Mizzou senior’s body was found in the Cumberland River in West Nashville on Friday, March 22, roughly eight miles away from where he was last seen downtown on March 8. 

On Saturday, March 23, the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) confirmed to News 2 that Strain’s preliminary autopsy had been completed, adding that his de*ath continued to appear “a*ccidental,” with no foul play-related trauma. 

Strain’s family traveled from Missouri to Nashville after finding out on March 9 that he was missing, and they remained in town for the duration of the two-week search.  

“I just ask that you mamas out there hug your babies tight tonight, please,” Michelle Whiteid, Strain’s mother, urged during a press conference after Strain’s body was discovered.

Strain’s spring fraternity formal ended in a way his family never expected. Surveillance footage showed Strain appear to struggle at times while walking through downtown. Police body camera video later showed Strain briefly exchanging greetings with an officer investigating a car burglary in Gay Street, but MNPD noted that Strain did not appear to be in distress.  

Although Strain’s family didn’t get the outcome they were hoping for, they did get a chance to see the Volunteer spirit, as dozens of people spent countless hours working to locate Strain. 

“Riley’s captured the hearts of people across the country, and we thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers and their efforts on trying to find him,” Strain’s father, Ryan Gilbert, said.

A major piece of evidence was discovered on Sunday, March 17, when several TikTok content creators located Strain’s bank card along the riverbank. 

“I just need them to know that there are people who do care as much as they do and even about Riley and about them themselves,” said Brandy Baenen, who helped find Strain’s card last weekend. 

Others traveled from hundreds of miles away to help safely coordinate volunteer efforts.  

“I’ve lost a daughter myself several years ago and it just shatters your heart, especially when you can feel what that family is feeling,” said David Flagg, incident commander with the United Cajun Navy. 

Flagg thanked everyone who donated their time and resources to aid in the search, including individuals who traveled from several states away to offer help with boats and canines.  

“When you hear a mama just wailing at the top of her lungs because she just lost her baby, it just crushes you, but I think they’ll be fine,” Flagg explained. “They are very, very strong in their Christian faith, and they know where Riley is, and they know that they’ll see him again someday in glory.”

The United Cajun Navy plans to keep some crews on the ground to help with the search for 15-year-old Sebastian Rogers, who was reported missing from Sumner County nearly a month ago. Flagg said their assistance was requested by Sebastian’s father.  

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *