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Body of missing University of Missouri student Riley Strain found in river in West Nashville

Body of missing student Riley Strain found
Body of missing student Riley Strain found 05:16

A body found in a river in West Nashville on Friday morning has been confirmed to be missing University of Missouri student Riley Strain, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said.

Strain's body was recovered from the Cumberland River in West Nashville, about eight miles from downtown, police said on social media.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake said in a news conference that "there is no other evidence that suggests anything other than" Strain falling into the river, noting that he still had his clothes, watch and other identifying items on him. 

Police added that no "foul play-related trauma was observed" and an autopsy is pending. Strain's family has been informed, Drake said.  

Riley Strain Metro Nashville Police Department

Strain, 22, disappeared while on a fraternity trip to Nashville, and was last seen on March 8, shortly after being kicked out of Luke's 32 Bridge, a bar owned by country singer Luke Bryan. The bar said its records show he ordered one alcoholic drink and two glasses of water. 

Surveillance video showed Strain walking alone in downtown Nashville. He was last seen at around 9:52 p.m. The friends he was with reported him missing just after 1:30 a.m.   

In a message to its student body, the University of Missouri said that Strain had traveled to Nashville to attend his fraternity's spring formal event. 

In recent days, the search for Strain has focused on area waterways after his debit card was found along a Nashville river. Officials first focused on Cumberland River's downtown section before expanding the search to include more of the river, including the Cheatham Dam, which is about 40 miles from downtown Nashville. The search has involved helicopters, boats and ground crews. Police also shut down the dam to inspect debris that floated to the surface, CBS affiliate WTVF reported. 

Strain's body was found by workers at a company on the river shortly after 7 a.m., Drake said.

Riley Strain on surveillance footage. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

"They removed something from the river and as they moved it they noticed Mr. Strain and called it in," Drake said. The police chief said that officers had planned to search this area of the river today, noting that because of Strain's height and weight it was believed his body could be surfacing in the area soon. 

Drake said that the police department received over 200 tips during the search for Strain, and thanked the community for their attempts to find him. He also said his "heart and prayers go out" to Strain's family. 

The Cumberland River is a major waterway that runs over 680 miles through Kentucky and Tennessee. Multiple dams dot the river.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has been working with the Cheatham County Sheriff's Office to conduct downriver operations. The United Cajun Navy, a volunteer disaster relief organization, has also participated in the search. 

After Strain's body was found, Nashville Mayor Freddie O'Connell said on social media that the city would "continue to work toward improvements in safety in a variety of ways."

"This is not the outcome that anyone hoped for – especially his parents and everyone who loved him," O'Connell wrote. 

The University of Missouri emphasized that resources were available for students and staff affected by Strain's death and disappearance.

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

The college student's parents have been in Nashville since the search began. Chris Whiteid, Strain's stepfather, told ABC News on Wednesday that the family had already started bracing for the worst-case scenario.

"Put yourself in our shoes. Everybody knows it. Everybody's thinking it," Whiteid said. 

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