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Student wrongly tied to Boston bombings found dead

By Erika Niedowski

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:51 a.m. HST, Apr 26, 2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. » A body pulled from waters off a Providence park was that of a 22-year-old Brown University student missing since last month, the Rhode Island medical examiner's office said Thursday.

Sunil Tripathi was identified through a forensic dental exam, but a cause of death has not been determined, said Dara Chadwick, a spokeswoman for the state health department.

The announcement put an end to the mystery of Tripathi's disappearance, which became doubly painful for his family when amateur online sleuths wrongly identified him as a possible suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Tripathi's family, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said it was overcome with grief but grateful for the outpouring of support relatives got over the last month.

"As we carry indescribable grief, we also feel incredible gratitude," the Tripathi family said in a statement on a Facebook page set up to help find Tripathi, who went by Sunny. "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."

Tripathi's body was found Tuesday by members of the Brown crew team off of India Point Park and was brought to shore by its coach, Providence Police Cmdr. Thomas Oates said. He said the body had been in the water for "some time."

Tripathi's family had been searching for him since mid-March with help from the FBI and fellow Brown students. His sister, Sangeeta, said he left his phone, wallet and other belongings in his apartment near campus and simply disappeared. He was on leave from the Ivy League school, where he was studying philosophy, and had been going through a difficult time, she said.

Last week, speculation swirled on Twitter and the website Reddit that Tripathi was the second of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings because some thought he resembled one of the people in photos released by the FBI. That person turned out to be 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, authorities said.

Reddit later apologized to Tripathi's family for fueling "online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties."

Tripathi's family responded to the speculation in a Facebook post that read: "A tremendous and painful amount of attention has been cast on our beloved Sunil Tripathi in the past 12 hours. We have known unequivocally all along that neither individual suspected as responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings was Sunil."

The family said in its statement Thursday that the last month "has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too."

The family went on: "Take care of one another. 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."

Brown President Christina H. Paxson sent a message to the campus community Thursday, saying Tripathi — the brother of two Brown graduates — would be remembered for his "gentle demeanor and generous spirit." She described him as an accomplished saxophonist and a "serious, thoughtful, intellectually curious student and a brilliant writer."

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Slow wrote:
The family's statements are gracious, kind, and heartbreaking. What a first class family. And what a shameful episode for Reddit. Hopefully a very costly one too.
on April 25,2013 | 03:39PM
fyaman001 wrote:
he was dead well before being mis-identified; not sure what grounds the family could sue Reddit.......the media should be ashamed for trying to imply that the mis-identification caused him to (apparently) kill himself......
on April 25,2013 | 04:16PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Does the article say when he died?
on April 26,2013 | 07:33AM
romei wrote:
aaauugghhh ... how heart -breaking.... condolences to the surviving Tripathi familiy & their friends. there is certainly a lesson to be learned here ~
on April 25,2013 | 04:19PM
kailua000 wrote:
I'm assuming since he was on leave from Brown and was going thru a difficult time, it may have been suicide. Left all his belongings at home, walked out the door and disappeared. Coming from a culture that expects you to do well, having to live up to his two brothers, maybe he just was not doing well and did not want to disappoint his family. Reddit had nothing to do with the death. Shameful what happened but people post lies, vicious statements about all sorts of things on all sorts of websites that are not monitored for content, not just Reddit. Most of what is on there is just rants, photos, jokes, though I've only glanced at it a few times. However, cant blame Reddit for this, it was 3 or 4 weeks after the young man disappeared. May he rest in peace.
on April 26,2013 | 04:44AM
Larry01 wrote:
That family is incredible, trying to turn such a tragic event into something positive. Blessings to them.
on April 26,2013 | 07:46AM
akuboatcaptain wrote:
the reason for his untimely death will never be known, but those false accusations certainly didn't help him. bloggers are such morons, people who post hateful messages should have their internet taken away. it's not free speech, it's hatemongering.
on April 26,2013 | 09:13AM
akuboatcaptain wrote:
the world will never know the reason for his untimely death, but those false accusations certainly did not help him in any way. bloggers who post irresponsible hate speech should have their internet taken away at the very least, it's not first amendment, it's incendiary hate speech that have real negative impact.
on April 26,2013 | 09:17AM
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