Published April 25, 2013
The Rhode Island medical examiner's office says a body found in Providence is that of a Brown University student missing since last month.
Health Department spokeswoman Dara Chadwick says the body of 22-year-old Sunil Tripathi was identified Thursday morning through a forensic dental exam. The cause of death has not been determined.
Tripathi's body was found Tuesday by members of the Brown crew team in waters off India Point Park. Relatives of Tripathi, who's from Bryn Mawr, Pa., had been searching for him with help from the FBI and Brown students since mid-March.
Chadwick says Tripathi's family has been notified. A message was left for his sister.
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, 22, originally from Bryn Mawr, Pa., and known as "Sunny," is on leave from the Ivy League school but was living in an apartment in Providence with classmates, his sister Sangeeta told the Associated Press. During his leave, he was volunteering at local libraries and at a chess club.
She said her brother had been acting normally in the days and weeks leading up to March 15, although he was going through a "tough time."
After the Boston Marathon bombings last week, Tripathi's family was rocked by rumors spread on social media websites such as Twitter and Reddit that he could have been one of the suspects, Reuters reports.
"Someone will tweet, then retweet, and completely unsubstantiated things can proliferate so rapidly and destructively,'' Sangeeta Tripathi told Reuters. "Those night hours were horrible."
Reddit has since apologized for the rumor, and on Friday, Reddit users launched a new crowd-sourced campaign to help locate Tripathi.
On the last day he was seen, a Friday, he had tea with a friend, spoke on the phone with his grandmother and had a lengthy text message conversation with his aunt in Boston, which was not unusual, Sangeeta Tripathi said. Around midnight, he traded text messages with his mother.
"All of those people felt nothing remarkably different was happening," his sister said.
On Saturday afternoon, she texted him and didn't hear back.
She says he left his wallet, credit cards and cell phone in his apartment as well as a note that was not addressed to anyone in particular. She would not discuss what it said.
"It was a very short note that was very vague and not conclusive," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report