Riley Strain’s parents speak out after University of Missouri student’s body found in Nashville’s Cumberland River
Riley Strain’s parents speak out after University of Missouri student’s body found in Nashville’s Cumberland River

Riley Strain’s parents and stepfather spoke of their heartbreak after the student’s body was found in the Cumberland River in Tennessee on Friday.

“I’m just asking you moms to hold your babies tight tonight, please,” Riley’s mother, Michelle Whiteid, told reporters Friday, according to Fox 17 .

“Please hug your babies tight tonight.”

Michelle Strain Whitehead tearfully spoke to the press after her son’s body was found Friday morning in the Cumberland River in Nashville. Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Strain’s parents and several other family members wore green, Strain’s favorite color, to honor the University of Missouri student at the press conference.

Strain went missing earlier this month after being kicked out of a Nashville bar while on a trip with his fraternity brothers.

Ryan Gilbert, Strain’s father, thanked the Nashville Police Department, the United Cajun Navy, the community and his family back home for helping search for his son.

“It’s just amazing what they’ve done for us,” Gilbert said.

The finance professional’s stepfather, Chris Whiteid, described the past two weeks as an “emotional rollercoaster”.

Ryan Gilbert, the father of Riley Strain, speaks during a news conference at Metro Nashville Police Department headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday. Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

“We are so grateful for everything you have done for our family. The grace you have given us means so much, more than you will ever know,” said Chris Whiteid.

“To the people of Nashville, I cannot thank you enough for the support, love and encouragement you have shown me and my wife. You don’t understand how much that meant to us in some of our darkest hours.

Mizzou student Riley Strain has been missing in Nashville since March 8. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

Family, friends and members of the Nashville community held a candlelight vigil to honor Strain’s family on Gay Street Friday night, one of the last places the 22-year-old was last seen.

In a statement provided to The Post Friday, Strain’s fraternity, Delta Chi, spoke glowingly of its deceased brother.

“The Delta Chi fraternity is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of our esteemed fraternity brother, Riley Strain,” it read.

“Our hearts go out to Riley’s family and loved ones at this incredibly difficult time as we work to provide support and resources to everyone affected by this tragedy.”

What we know about the mysterious disappearance of Riley Strain

The tension dissipated after he left country star Luke Bryan’s bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge, on March 8.

Over the next two weeks, authorities followed a trail of phone calls and grainy surveillance footage, even finding a bank card in his name on the riverbank earlier this week.

Strain’s body was found floating in the river by a worker clearing debris from the banks of the Cumberland River around 7:30 a.m., according to Nashville Metropolitan Police.

Strain told his friends he was going back to their room at the Tempo by Hilton, about five blocks from the bar. NewsNation
Riley Strain’s body was found in a river a month after he disappeared. WTVF

The fire department worked quickly to remove the body from the water before cops confirmed it was the 22-year-old several hours later.

No foul play is suspected, but an autopsy has been ordered, police said.

Police Chief John Drake told reporters that Strain was wearing the same shirt, watch and “other identifying items” that initially led investigators to believe they had found the missing student.

His body was discovered exactly two weeks after he was last seen.

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