Student, Sunil Tripathi, wrongly tied to Boston bombings found dead

1:58 PM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
Sunil Tripathi (Photo: AP)
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(USA TODAY) A body pulled from the water off Indian Point Park in Rhode Island has been identified as the Brown University student mistakenly linked by amateur sleuths on a social media site to the Boston bombings.

Health Department spokeswoman Dara Chadwick said Thursday that the body of Sunil Tripathi was identified through dental records.

It was not immediately clear when Tripathi, who was last seen March 15, died. The cause of death has also not been determined.

Tripathi's body was found Tuesday by members of the Brown University crew team.

The Pennsylvania native was on leave from the Ivy League school but was living in an apartment near campus in Providence, R.I., with several other students.

After the April 15 bombings of the Boston Marathon, crowdsourcing groups drawing upon photos released by the FBI of a suspect erroneously reported via Reddit, a social news website, that the person in a baseball cap strongly resembled the missing student.

At one point, Tripathi's name landed on the Twitter top trends list.

"The last eighteen hours have generated tremendous and painful attention -- on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, as well as from television media inquiries -- linking Sunil to the video stills released by the FBI yesterday afternoon," said Akhil Tripathi, Sunil's father, in a family statement last week, WPVI-TV reported.

"Unequivocally, we have known that neither individual suspected as responsible for the incident in Boston was Sunil," the statement said.

On Monday, Reddit general manager Erik Martin apologized for the "dangerous speculation" that "spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties."

In a blog post, he specifically apologized to the Tripathi family "for the pain they have had to endure."

"The Reddit staff and the millions of people on Reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened," he said.

"We all need to look at what happened and make sure that in the future we do everything we can to help and not hinder crisis situations," Martin added.

Martin's post was written before the student's body was found.

Contributing: Associated Press

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

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