Sunil Tripathi, the Brown University student missing since March who was briefly misidentified as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, was identified Thursday as the dead body recovered from the Providence River in Rhode Island.
Multiple news outlets reported that the body, which was found Tuesday, had been identified Thursday as the 22-year-old Brown student. The news was also posted to the Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi Facebook page in a post attributed to the Tripathi family.
“On April 23, our beloved Sunil was discovered in the waters off India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island,” the message read. “As we carry indescribable grief, we also feel incredible gratitude. To each one of you -- from our hometown to many distant lands -- we extend our thanks for the words of encouragement, for your thoughts, for your hands, for your prayers and for the love you have so generously shared. Your compassionate spirit is felt by Sunil and by all of us.”
“This last month has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too. Take care of one another,” the post stated. “Be gentle, be compassionate. Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering. Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it.”
The body was recovered from the Providence River near the Wyndham Garden Providence Hotel around 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday after it was discovered by the coach of the Brown University rowing team, who then contacted police.
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On Wednesday, Providence police Lt. Joseph Donnelly said it was “very, very possible" that the body was Tripathi’s. The Health Department positively identified the body as that of the missing Brown student on Thursday.
Tripathi, known to family and friends as Sunny, went missing March 16 from his Providence apartment. His house keys, phone, wallet, computer and other personal belongings were left inside.
As the Pennsylvania native’s family grew concerned about his whereabouts, they also had to deal with Tripathi being wrongly identified on social media as a suspect in last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. Several Twitter accounts, including one associated with the hacktivist organization Anonymous, cited police scanners when they announced Tripathi was identified as a suspect in the attacks.
News stories quickly sprouted about Tripathi being a suspect, while other outlets repeated the story.
The Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi Facebook page alluded to the false reports in a Saturday post that linked to “a few of the many articles” that either reported or pointed out the misinformation.
“Hopefully we are all humbled to see how quickly messages can be distorted, amplified and unleashed,” the post read. “Please be careful. Be gentle. Take care of one another. As President Obama said, ‘All in all, this has been a tough week.’ Sunny, we love you.”
The FBI and local police led the investigation into the missing Brown student. Students at the university and other nearby colleges also volunteered in the search.