Student Last Seen After Leaving Luke Bryan’s Bar Still Missing 5 Days Later: 'It’s Killing Us,' Family Says

"We are not leaving until we have you," Riley Strain's stepfather tells PEOPLE

<p>Christopher Whiteid</p> Riley Strain.

Christopher Whiteid

Riley Strain.
  • Christopher Whiteid, the stepfather of missing University of Missouri student Riley Strain, is speaking out about the ongoing search for his son in Nashville

  • "We don’t know what’s going on," Whiteid tells PEOPLE

  • The 22-year-old Missouri native was last seen by friends on March 8 after he was reportedly kicked out of Luke Bryan's restaurant and bar

The family of Riley Strain is detailing their pain after the 22-year-old University of Missouri student went missing while on a trip to Nashville last week.

The days without answers have been "pure hell," Christopher Whiteid, Strain's stepfather, tells PEOPLE. "We have lost our son."

The student was last seen by friends on Friday night after he was kicked out of Luke's 32 Bridge Food + Drink, Luke Bryan's restaurant and bar, according to St. Louis Post Dispatch, FOX affiliate WZTV and NBC affiliate WSMV-TV.

The Delta Chi fraternity member had traveled to Tennessee with the group for their annual formal, according to Whiteid.

Related: Search for Texas A&M Corpus Christi Student Expands 1 Week After His Disappearance: ‘A Mystery’

Sometime before 8 p.m. on the night he went missing, Strain FaceTimed his mother from a different bar, his stepfather says. "He was inside with is friends," he says, noting that the group was "giving her a hard time because she was already in bed."

Whiteid, 52, says the family didn't realize anything was wrong until his wife got a call from his fraternity brothers the next morning. They were on the road within 30 minutes.

"I was literally getting ready to tee off on the golf course when my wife called me, and I turned around, went and loaded all my stuff off the golf cart, and told my friend that I was sorry I had to leave," he tells PEOPLE.

Whiteid says they arrived with Strain's dad and stepmom and that they finished the police report that his fraternity brothers started. As investigators continued their search, the dad says they visited "every emergency room" in Nashville.

"No one had anybody by his name in there," he adds. "And of course they wouldn't tell us if they had anybody that matched the description."

<p>Christopher Whiteid</p> Riley Strain.

Christopher Whiteid

Riley Strain.

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The family spent the night at a hotel, but on Sunday, they went to the area where his phone last pinged before it died or stopped working, Whiteid says.

Whiteid says more family members arrived that day and they continued to look around the area. But again, they ended up hitting a dead end.

"It’s killing us," Whiteid says. "Because we don’t know what’s going on. We can’t find him."

Related: Virginia Tech Student Missing for 1 Week Tracked to Missouri Restaurant Before Driving Off

Whiteid says that a detective assigned to the case let them know no one matching Strain's description has been at a morgue and that he hasn't been picked up by an ambulance and taken to an emergency room either.

"It wasn't good news, but it wasn't bad news," he says. "It was news that we still have opportunities to find him."

As far as where his friends were when Strain left the bar, Whiteid says he doesn't know for certain, but that the fraternity members said that "the bouncers wouldn’t let them out with him, that they were trying to get their bill paid."

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department tells PEOPLE that the search is ongoing and detectives are "working around the clock with different leads."

<p>Christopher Whiteid</p> Riley Strain.

Christopher Whiteid

Riley Strain.

Strain is described as 6-foot-5 “with a thin build, blue eyes and light brown hair," according to authorities. He was last seen wearing a black/brown button-up shirt with a black chest pocket, blue jeans, brown boots and a black Apple watch.

On Monday, the University of Missouri said in a statement that they've been "in touch with the family and authorities in Nashville who are working to find Strain."

Related: Family of College Student Who Went Missing in France Says 'What He Went Through' Is 'Still a Blur'

“The safety of our community is our highest priority,” the statement read. “Our thoughts are with Riley’s family as the search continues. We will be offering any support to them that we can, and we encourage anyone who needs help to reach out to our counseling resources.”

As the search for Strain continues, Whiteid says he is "so thankful" that the case has gotten attention in the press. Bryan, 47, even shared his hopes for the college student to be found.

"TC Restaurant Group, operator, and owner of Luke's 32 Bridge is continuing to work closely with the Metro Nashville Police Department to provide security camera footage and any other potentially helpful information to aid in the search for Riley Strain. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones for his safe return," read one of the American Idol judge's social media posts, which he captioned, "Y'ALL THIS IS SCARY. PRAYING FOR HIS SAFE RETURN."

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Whiteid also relayed a plea to Strain, whom he described as "outgoing" and "charismatic." He shares that the business and finance student even has his sights set on continuing to work with Northwest Mutual Insurance, where he had an internship, after graduation.

"We're looking for you. We are not leaving until we have you. We're going to be with you at graduation...and everything's going to be fine," he says. "We're going to get you. We know you're out there."

Anyone with information about Strain's disappearance is asked to call police at 615-862-8600.

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