‘He’s my best friend’: Mother of Riley Strain says family focused on bringing him home

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The parents of missing Missouri student Riley Strain spoke during an emotional press conference Tuesday as the search for their son entered its second week.

During the press conference at Public Square Park in downtown Nashville, the United Cajun Navy announced it is now working to organize volunteer search groups at the request of Strain's family. Organizers plan to continue searching around Strain’s last known location near the Cumberland River.

Missing Missouri student: United Cajun Navy organizing searches for Riley Strain

Family and investigators with the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) had few other details to provide in the search for the 22-year-old who went missing on March 8 during a night out with his fraternity brothers.

(Courtesy: Family of Riley Strain)

However, Strain's stepfather, Chris Whiteid, said the family is grateful for everything that's been done so far to help find him and the support they've received from the community. It was an emotional moment for Strain's mother, Michelle Whiteid, who became teary-eyed as her husband spoke to reporters.

“We appreciate more than you’ll ever know the outpouring that we’ve received from the community, from the press, and everyone else involved,” Chris Whiteid said. “Our goal is still to bring Riley home. We feel that is still a very pliable goal.”

Search for Riley Strain: What is the United Cajun Navy?

Another tear-filled moment came when Michelle Whiteid was asked about the family's conversations with Strain's friends in the days since his disappearance, with Michelle Whiteid telling reporters, "They're heartbroken also."

"He's their best friend, and we love these boys like our own. It's just as hard on them as it is on us. We're just focusing on bringing Riley home. He's my best friend. He's everything," she said before breaking down and pressing her head against her husband's shoulder.

At this time, police said there is still no evidence pointing to foul play. Investigators are continuing to follow up on multiple leads, and MNPD Sgt. Robert Nielsen said they will not stop until they have answers.

TIMELINE: The disappearance of Missouri student Riley Strain, what we know so far

“This is not going away any time soon. I have detectives that work cold case homicides that are decades old, and we continue to work on those,” Nielsen said. “In fact, one of my detectives was able to close two of them last year… We keep going until we have absolutely nothing.”

More details about Riley Strain

University of Missouri student Riley Strain disappeared while on a fraternity trip in Nashville on March 8.

Surveillance video from Downtown Smoke & Vape Shop caught Strain stumbling and falling in a nearby parking lot around 9:45 p.m.

Strain’s last phone ping was near James Robertson Parkway and Gay Street between 9:55 p.m. and 10 p.m. Detectives said the last phone conversation Strain had with one of his friends was also during that same time period, but the ping covered about a two-mile radius and didn’t give them a direction of travel or any more details about where Strain might have gone.

A friend of the 22-year-old called 911 on Saturday, March 9 after saying he went to the Central Police Precinct and called the sheriff’s office to file a missing person’s report.

Then, on Sunday, March 17, police announced Strain’s bank card was found on an embankment near the Cumberland River amid the ongoing search effort for the missing college student.

On Monday, March 18, the department released bodycam video from an officer interacting with Strain on Gay Street just south of the Woodland Street Bridge from the night of Friday, March 8.

Strain is 6-feet, 5-inches tall, with a slender build, blonde hair, and blue eyes, according to his family. If you see Strain or have any information about where he may be, you are asked to call the MNPD at 615-862-8600.

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