State officials confirmed this morning that a body they pulled from the Providence River earlier this week is that of Sunil Tripathi, the missing Brown student who social media wrongly identified as "Suspect 2" as the manhunt for the Boston bombers unfolded last week. Here's the local NBC affiliate with the details:
The medical examiner said the cause of Tripathi's death is still under investigation but no foul play is suspected. Tripathi was last seen on March 16, and his family had been desperately searching for him. His body was found in the water at India Point Park late Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement brings a sad end to a search that began in the middle of last month, and eventually came to include the FBI.
As we explained last week, the rumor that Tripathi was a suspect in the bombings seems to have begun on Reddit, though it quickly made its way to Twitter, then maybe (or maybe not) to a police scanner, and then back to Twitter. Of course, now we know that 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, not the 22-year-old Tripathi, was the man captured in security footage wearing a white baseball cap at the marathon. But in the intervening hours, about a dozen news vans descended on Tripathi's family home, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and comments on the Facebook page devoted to finding Tripathi became so hostile that his family decided to temporarily take the page down before later reactivating it and adding a poignant new image and message that read, in part: "Sunny, we love you so much. Please lend your hand. Share your love. Help us heal. Find Sunil."
In a message posted to the Facebook account this morning, the family writes:
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. 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.
It's signed, "With love, The Tripathi Family."
This post has been updated with additional information as it became available.