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Missing college student's debit card found along Nashville river; police share new video

New details in college student's disappearance
Police release new video in college student Riley Strain's disappearance 01:54

As the search for a college student missing in Nashville continues into its second week, authorities are sharing new clues with the hope of learning more about what may have happened to 22-year-old Riley Strain the night he disappeared. Meanwhile, Strain's family asked the United Cajun Navy, a volunteer organization that mainly assists in natural disaster response scenarios, to join the search as more and more community members interested in the case have themselves become involved in the effort. 

"We feel that we need the extra resources to come in and help us as we try to get more organized for our family, and see if we can't bring some more clues to light," said Strain's stepfather, Chris Whiteid, at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Strain's mother, Michelle Whiteid, appeared beside him. 

David Flagg, the national director of operations for the United Cajun Navy, also spoke at the conference. He said that the volunteer group lent its services to Strain's case since being contacted early last week by his family, and they have so far provided an airboat and a hovercraft that was expected to begin probing the area later on Tuesday or early Wednesday. 

But, with community volunteers trying to investigate on their own, Strain's family said they wanted to share a public call for individuals to come together and work with the organization instead.

"We're very grateful for everyone that's done everything so far. We ask that you continue. We ask that you work with us and help us to become more organized," said Strain's stepfather. He added: "Our goal is still to bring Riley home."

Flagg reiterated that sentiment. 

"Understanding what's been happening here regarding the search efforts of individuals, we thought it would be a real good idea to organize a structured and organized search activity for this," he said. "I would ask any volunteers that are here and are searching to please come under the umbrella of the United Cajun Navy search."

Strain was last seen on Friday, March 8. Only scattered details about where he went after being kicked out of a Nashville bar that night have surfaced since his disappearance, although some new developments in the case surfaced over the weekend. First, his debit card was found Sunday on an embankment of the Cumberland River, which runs through the downtown area where he was last seen. The card was found by two women who had followed the case and joined the search of their own accord. Then, on Monday, Nashville police shared body camera footage taken by an officer who briefly interacted with Strain that night, in the same general area.

Strain's bank card was found Sunday afternoon along a section of the embankment between Gay Street and the river, Nashville police said in an update posted to social media. Strain had previously been seen in surveillance footage crossing an intersection from 1st Avenue onto Gay Street around 9:50 p.m. ET on the night of his disappearance, after being ordered to leave a bar several blocks from there some 15 minutes earlier. 

Police detectives, helicopters and boat crews have been searching that area, including the riverbank, for the better part of 10 days. They had not found any signs of Strain or his belongings before the bank card was discovered, but another video clip released on Monday seemed to corroborate, at least, that he was physically there that night. 

Police body camera footage showed Strain walking alone along a portion of Gay Street that runs parallel to the Cumberland River near the Woodland Street Bridge, Nashville police said in a social media post with the video clip. It was recorded by Nashville officer Reginald Young, who was at that location on a burglary call and remained there for about 45 minutes. The police department did not specify what time it was when Young interacted with Strain, who was walking past him, although they noted in a subsequent social media update that "no video has been discovered that shows Riley away from Gay St after the 9:52 p.m. timeframe."

Strain greets Young first in the footage. The officer then replies and asks, "How are you doing, sir?" 

"I'm good, how are you?" Strain replies, before continuing to walk past. The exchange is fleeting, and Strain does not turn to look at Young in the video.

Nashville police said they have not found any evidence suggesting foul play was involved in Strain's disappearance. His parents traveled from Springfield, Missouri, to Nashville after he went missing and "received a full briefing on the work being done" to find him when they met with detectives on Sunday evening, the department said.

Strain is from Missouri and studies at Mizzou, the state university in Columbia. Now in his senior year, he had traveled to Nashville for the weekend with some of his fraternity brothers and booked a downtown hotel not far from the bar where he and his friends were out drinking just before he vanished. 

The bar, Luke's 32 Bridge, is owned by the country music artist Luke Bryan. After the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced that it would investigate whether Strain had been "overserved" at the bar, its management company said in a joint statement with Bryan over the weekend that their records show the college student only purchased one alcoholic drink and two waters while he was there. Security at Luke's 32 Bridge ultimately escorted Strain out the bar at 9:35 p.m., according to the statement, which called the order for him to leave "a decision based on our conduct standards."

One of Strain's friends reported him missing about four hours after he was escorted from the bar. Attempts to determine Strain's whereabouts using Snapchat's location feature were not successful, and police said they are still working to learn more from his cell phone records. They said earlier in the investigation that his phone last pinged near a cell tower less than two miles from Luke's 32 Bridge.

Strain is 6 feet 5 inches tall, with blue eyes and light brown hair, and police as well as his friends, family and community members now involved in the search have shared multiple photos of him along with descriptions. Video footage of him taken the night of March 8 showed Strain wearing denim pants and a brown button-up shirt with dark short sleeves and a matching dark front pocket.

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