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Riley Strain's family orders second autopsy as questions remain

A Tennessee Body Farm expert is questioning how the once-missing college student's body was found without pants or boots on.
Riley Strain's family orders second autopsy as questions remain
Posted at 7:39 AM, Mar 29, 2024

Nearly a week after learning their son died, Riley Strain's family ordered a second autopsy of their 22-year-old son.

The case remains open, and now the world-renowned expert in body decomposition questions what happened to Riley.

Riley was fully clothed in the security video the night he disappeared. But when he was pulled from the river two weeks later, Scripps News learned Riley didn't have pants on or his boots. From the waist down, only his boxer shorts and socks remained. However, police confirmed when his body was found that Riley had his shirt and Apple watch still on.

"It is unusual. Normally if you fall in the river, it's very difficult to get your pants off," said Dr. Bill Bass, who is the founder of the University of Tennessee's famed Body Farm and one of the foremost experts on body decomposition in the world.

Scripps News asked him about the missing pants and boots. Dr. Bass said it's possible, but unlikely they came off in the river current.

"No, they would not come off by themselves," Bass said.

He said debris could have snagged the clothing or he had another theory.

"I would say somebody took them off," Bass said. "If you do research on this, it would be very difficult because you've got to kill a person to do it, but it is difficult to get your pants off. It's difficult when you are alive to get your pants off."

Scripps News spoke with Riley’s stepdad, Chris Whiteid, who says he didn't want to comment now about the second autopsy since the family is focused on Riley's funeral on Friday.

But he did say they have “big things to share” next week.

Investigators are still awaiting toxicology results from the autopsy.

Who is Riley Strain and when was he last seen?

Riley Strain, 22, is a University of Missouri senior who disappeared after a night out with friends in Downtown Nashville on March 8.

He went missing after he was kicked out of Luke Bryan's bar on Lower Broadway.

Surveillance video and body-cam footage was released detailing the night, as well as a statement from Luke Bryan's bar, claiming they only ever sold him one alcoholic beverage and two waters.

Here's a timeline of events that led up to his disappearance.

What evidence was found?

On March 17, Metro Police said Riley's bank card was found in the Cumberland River embankment along Gay Street by those who had been searching for Riley themselves.

Riley's body was found in the Cumberland River in the Nations area 14 days after he went missing. We've created a map diagram to show the distance from where Riley went missing to where he was located.

This story was originally published by Nick Beres at Scripps News Nashville.

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