WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A body found in a river in Providence has been identified as missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi.
Tripathi, 22, had been missing since March 16. He had left his apartment in Providence, R.I. without his wallet, cell phone or identification. The FBI became involved in the search, which expanded outside of Rhode Island to New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and his home state of Pennsylvania. Tripathi's family reported that he had been suffering from depression, and had taken an approved leave of absence from Brown, where he studies philosophy.
His family took to social media in an effort to expand the search, and a Facebook page devoted to Tripathi garnered more than 11,000 likes and messages of support from all over the world.
"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," Tripathi's family posted on the Facebook site Thursday.
During the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers last week, a rumor began to spread on Reddit and other social media sites that Tripathi had been named a suspect in the bombings. Some said that his name had been mentioned over the Boston police scanner, a claim that later turned out to be false. The "Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi" Facebook page was bombarded with so many messages of outrage and hate that the family was forced to shut it down for several hours on Friday.
Tripathi's body was discovered Monday in the waters off of India Point Park, a short distance from his apartment. Medical examiners used dental records to identify him. The matter is still under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.
"This last month has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too," the Tripathi family wrote. "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."