Riley Strain's parents hope to find son who 'stands out in the crowd'

Riley Strain's mother and stepfather have not given up hope of finding their 22-year-old son, who has been missing since March 8.

“We're still, you know, actively planning to bring Riley home with us,” Strain's stepfather, Chris Whitehead, told NBC News in an interview Saturday, more than a week after his stepson went missing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Strain's bank card was found Sunday on the bank between K Street and the Cumberland River, near the riverbank where he was last seen, police said. Update on XIt may provide a clue that brings Strain's parents one step closer to finding their missing son.

But even as they faced their darkest moment, Chris Whitedett and his wife Michelle Whitedett said the support and search efforts of those in the community had “restored our faith in people”.

“We've had some really good volunteer organizations that have reached out to us and helped us out,” Chris Whited said.

Michelle and Chris Whitted arrive in Nashville on March 9 to find out what happened after Strain was removed from the bar owned by country singer Luke Bryan – Luke's 32 Bridge Food + Drink in downtown Nashville.

The bar said in a statement that security escorted Strine out “based on our standards of conduct” and that he walked out the front door at 9:35 p.m. According to the report, Strain was only served one alcoholic drink and two waters while there. .

“It's hard to be away from home, but we wouldn't be anywhere else,” said Michael Whittit, whose husband said it was “so comforting” to be in the city where their son was last seen.

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Strain, a senior at the University of Missouri, was in town for a spring formal with her fraternity, Delta Chi.

More information about missing relay strain

He was last seen on security camera footage just before 10pm on March 8, police said. In the video, he appears to continue walking before turning 360 degrees.

He told his friends he was going back to his hotel after leaving Luke's 32 Bridge, Chris Whittet told the NBC affiliate. WSMV of NashvilleBut Strain never did.

At 9:47 p.m., Strain was spotted on security footage released by the Metro Nashville Police Department to 1st Avenue North K Street, 0.7 miles from Luke's 32 Bridge. Friends were staying.

The last video of Strain, from 9:52 p.m., shows him walking north between James Robertson Parkway and the Woodland Street Bridge, Nashville Police Sergeant Robert Nielsen said Thursday. Other cameras in the area did not pick up the strain's path, and Nielsen said they are looking for nearby cameras they may have missed to continue to gather information about the strain's whereabouts.

Nielsen said Thursday that there is no sign of foul play at this point and that this is still a missing person investigation. A ground, air and riverside search is underway near where the strain was last seen.

Chris Whitted said he and his wife have “struggled” with sparse information and short updates from police and detectives on the case over the past week, but he acknowledged the national attention on the case has been overwhelming for everyone involved.

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“This case brings a lot of information, and it's taxing on them. But it's taxing on us, not getting more updates on what's going on,” Chris Whited said.

MNPD spokesman Dan Aaron said Sunday that the department is “continually evaluating leads and tips from the public” in the search for Strain.

Aaron said barge operators are “keeping an eye” on the Cumberland River and the Air Traffic Unit is looking for signs of flying over the river. In addition, police boats with sonar capabilities are assisting in the search of the river, and emergency management resources searched the water on Saturday.

For now, “we're continuing to search,” said Chris Whittedt, adding that the family “has had some wonderful support” from volunteer organizations including the United Cajun Navy and A Voice for the Voiceless. Son, people in the area handing out flyers are doing everything they can to find Riley. They do.”

Brian Drascher, vice president of the United Cajun Fleet, said the team conducted searches by boat in the river near where the strain was last seen.

Whitney Sich of A Voice for the Voiceless said her group has been helping with the search for the strain “from day one,” helping to create and distribute flyers with information and raising awareness around the country, as well as group members “participating in 'boots on the ground'” searching for the strain in Nashville.

The Whittets said they are also focusing their search around where their son was last seen.

“We're very optimistic, we're moving forward, he's coming home, we're graduating in May, and life goes on as normal,” Chris Whitehead said.

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He added that they don't know where the strain might be.

“If I had known that, we would have had him right now,” Chris Whitehead said.

Strain, a finance and business major, is a financial planning intern at Northwestern Mutual and plans to pursue an internship after graduating from the University of Missouri, her stepmother said.

Chris Whited said his stepson, who is 6-foot-7 and 155-160 pounds with pink hair and blue eyes, “stands out in the crowd.”

“Riley was a guy who didn't know strangers,” continued Chris Whittedt, adding that Strain “walked up to people, talked to them, was full of life” and was “energetic, charismatic.”

“Everybody loved Riley because he didn't care who you were or what team you were in. He was Riley and you were whoever you were,” said Chris Whitehead.

Michelle Whiteid said her son was “very involved with the family” and often visited aunts, uncles, cousins ​​and grandparents when he came to school on the weekends.

Strain's father, stepfather, stepsister and stepfather are also in Nashville to help search for him.

“We're all leaning on each other,” Michael Whittit said. “We're a very close family — all of us.”

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