Riley Strain’s parents unable to ID person he texted before disappearance

(NewsNation) — Missing Mizzou student Riley Strain's last communication was an unclear text message he sent to a new girl he was seeing, according to a family friend, but Strain's mother and stepfather haven't been able to confirm the information.

"She texted him to see how he was doing, if he was having fun. He sent kind of a scripted text back to her saying 'Good lops,'" family friend Chris Dingman said during a Monday interview on NewsNation's "Elizabeth Vargas Reports."

Dingman described the message as unclear "slang," adding that the girl had difficulty understanding its meaning and had to resort to searching online for clarification, but didn't say what it might mean. "She thought it was something new that they picked up in Nashville," Dingman added.

Dingman said that it reflects Strain's mental state at the time. It's not clear if the spelling was intended, or if it was a typo or autocorrect error.

However, Strain’s mother, Michelle Whiteid, told NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield she wasn’t sure who that could be.

“I’m not sure … He’s got several friends that are female, male. I don’t know the individual he talked to at that time,” Whiteid said on “Banfield.”

Riley Strain timeline: Family holds out hope for Mizzou student’s return

The University of Missouri college senior vanished on March 8 after reportedly being removed from a downtown bar. Authorities have been scrambling to retrace his steps in a bid to unravel the circumstances of his disappearance.

On Sunday, Strain's bank card was discovered on the embankment of the Cumberland River, according to a statement from Metro Nashville Police.

On Monday, newly released body camera footage shows Strain's brief interaction with a Nashville officer on the night of his disappearance.

Dingman expressed gratitude for the release of the body camera footage, noting the warmth and politeness in Strain's voice during the brief exchange captured in the video: "It was very warm, heartfelt for the family to hear his voice."

However, Dingman also raised concerns about the delay in releasing the footage, questioning why it took over a week for authorities to make it available. He revealed that the family had been shown additional footage by the police, but the body camera recording marked the last known sighting of Strain.

Nashville police reiterated that there is currently no indication of foul play in Strain's disappearance. However, Dingman expressed frustration over the lack of progress in the investigation, particularly in light of the discovery of Strain's bank card in an area that had been extensively searched by volunteers.

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"Every piece of the puzzle we've been receiving, it leads us down 100 more questions," Dingman said. "We're no closer to finding Riley."

Dingman also highlighted the role of social media, particularly TikTok, in the search efforts, applauding the platform for providing a crucial lead in the case.

Riley Strain, 22, disappeared on March 8, 2023 in Nashville. (Credit: Whiteid and Gilbert family)Riley Strain, 22, disappeared on March 8, 2023 in Nashville. (Credit: Whiteid and Gilbert family)Riley Strain, 22, disappeared on March 8, 2023 in Nashville. (Credit: Whiteid and Gilbert family)Riley Strain, 22, disappeared on March 8, 2023 in Nashville. (Credit: Whiteid and Gilbert family)Riley Strain, 22, disappeared on March 8, 2023 in Nashville. (Credit: Whiteid and Gilbert family)Riley Strain, 22, disappeared on March 8, 2023 in Nashville. (Credit: Whiteid and Gilbert family)Riley Strain, 22, disappeared on March 8, 2023 in Nashville. (Credit: Whiteid and Gilbert family)

"It's ironic that they are literally trying to ban TikTok right now," he said.

Despite the uncertainties surrounding Strain's disappearance, Dingman remains hopeful for his safe return.

"We just want Riley home," he emphasized. "He's a great kid. He has a lot going for him."

Nashville police reiterated that there is currently no indication of foul play in Strain’s disappearance. However, Strain’s stepfather Chris Whiteid told “Banfield” that their family has become frustrated with the investigation.

“We’ve heard multiple people that have tried to call crime-stoppers and leave tips and told they don’t know anything about the Riley Strain case. Lots of confusion. We’re struggling. We’re 10 days in. It’s disheartening,” Whiteid said.

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