Body Of Missing Missouri Student Riley Strain Found In The Cumberland River In Nashville

Riley Strain
Riley Strain

The ending nobody was hoping for.

Metro Nashville Police confirmed the body of missing Missouri student Riley Strain has been found in the Cumberland River near Nashville, two weeks after he went missing while on a fraternity trip.

MNPD Chief John Drake said the call came in around 7:30 this morning from a company that works on the water and had been searching the river for Strain, and that he was still wearing the distinctive black and white shirt that he was wearing when he was last seen. There’s no word yet on a cause of death, but an autopsy is pending and Drake said that he expects it to be completed later today.

The discovery marks the end of a two-week search that has involved Metro Nashville Police and Fire, the Office of Emergency Management, along with volunteers from the United Cajun Navy as well as concerned citizens who came out to help locate the missing 22-year old.

Strain was last seen by his friends after being asked to leave Luke’s 32 Bridge, which is the bar owned by Luke Bryan on Broadway in downtown Nashville.

After being asked to leave the bar, Strain’s friends called him, but he told them he would just walk back to their hotel. The group was staying at the Tempo Hotel, which is just off of Broadway on 8th Avenue, and just a few blocks from Luke’s bar.

But for some reason, it appears that Strain walked in the opposite direction of his hotel. The student was seen on several videos walking towards the river in downtown Nashville, and the last location that his phone pinged was near the James Robertson Parkway Bridge, near the Davidson County Courthouse at around 9:53 pm.

Earlier this week, Metro Nashville police released bodycam footage showing one of their officers interacting with Strain as he walked on Gay Street, just feet from where he would ultimately go missing.

Strain’s body was located several miles down the river from where his phone last pinged.

The medical examiner and crime scene unit were both on scene as the body was recovered.

His debit card was found on an embankment near the river, but until today there have been no signs of Strain, and we still don’t know how he ended up in the river. Police say there is no evidence of foul play at this time.

Throughout the search, much of the focus has been on Luke Bryan’s bar, located at 301 Broadway, since that was the last place that Strain was seen by his friends.

Luke’s is less than a 10 minute walk from the spot that Strain was seen in the video released by police, and obviously on a Friday night Broadway and the surrounding areas are full of partygoers.

TC Restaurant Group, the operator and owner of Luke’s bar, released a statement on Strain’s disappearance last week, indicating that they were working closely with authorities in the search for the missing college student:

“TC Restaurant Group, operator and owner of Luke’s 32 Bridge, is continuing to work closely with the Metro Nashville Police Department to provide security camera footage and any other potentially helpful information to aid in the search for Riley Strain. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones for his safe return.”

But according to Riley’s family, the bar refused to let his friends accompany him when he was kicked out of the bar.

During an interview with NewsNation, Strain’s parents say that their son was asked to leave the bar due to being “over served.” But they also claim that the bar would not let his friends leave with him at that point.

In a statement to WSMV, TABC Communications Director Aaron Rummage confirmed that his department was investigating the bar’s conduct on the evening of Strain’s disappearance:

“There are no specific rules or statutes that governs escorting out intoxicated patrons from their businesses or providing assistance in getting someone home. 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.”

But TC Restaurant group issued a later statement disputing that Strain was over served while in the bar, and claiming that he was asked to leave through the front door, not a back door as has been previously reported:

“In our effort to help the Nashville Metro Police Department’s Missing Persons investigation of Riley Strain, we proactively provided detailed information quickly after his visit to our business on March 8.

This information included all security camera footage, photos of Riley at our establishment with detailed time stamps, transaction records, and staff accounts. Additionally, we proactively engaged in communication with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and will continue to communicate and provide any records needed to aid their ongoing investigation.

During Riley’s visit to Luke’s 32 Bridge, our records show he purchased and was served one alcoholic drink and two waters. At 9:35 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. He was followed down the stairs with one member of his party. The individual with Riley did not exit and returned upstairs.

Our prayers continue to be with Riley’s friends and family during this difficult time and for his safe return.”

And in a follow-up question asked by WZTV reporter Kelly Avellino, the bar confirmed that nobody at Luke’s prevented Riley’s friends from leaving with him when he was escorted out:

“No members of Riley’s party were required to stay inside the venue to close any open tabs, and no one from our team prevented anyone from Riley’s party from leaving the venue with him.”

Just a horrible ending to a tragic situation. Thoughts and prayers are with Riley’s family during this terrible time.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock