A missing student’s body has been identified as that of Sunil Tripathi, after a long search with some tragic and bizarre twists.
The discovery of the missing student’s body in a Rhode Island river was a sad end to a case that began on March 16, the last time Sunil Tripathi was seen alive.
Tripathi left his Providence apartment without any of the items most people carry — money, IDs, or a phone. Such a discovery generally portends ill in a missing persons case, and the family of Tripathi feared the worst.
Weeks passed, and no progress was made in the search for the missing student in Providence. While loved ones mounted a campaign on social media to find Sunny, the case seemed to rapidly grow cold.
The missing student’s body was found less than a week after Sunil Tripathi’s name once again made the news — but for unexpected reasons.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Tripathi was briefly and mistakenly pegged in Marathon images as a man believed now to be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The connection, made by web users overnight after the images were released by the FBI, caused considerable grief and compounded suffering for the family of Sunil Tripathi.
This week, a body found Tuesday in India Point Park was thought to perhaps be that of the missing student, and Tripathi’s sister Sangeeta told CNN afterwards that the misidentification of Sunil in suspect images had been devastating for the family:
“It was incredibly painful for our family. This was coming at a time after 34 days of pain in our family and worry. And we, you know, knew unconvincingly that this was not Sunil, especially when we saw all of the video footage and surveillance that was being released.”
Tripathi’s sister adds:
“We were absolutely sure. And it was just very difficult to have the events of that night unfold so aggressively with language that was not based on any actual evidence at all.”
On Thursday, the state Department of Health confirmed the missing student’s body had been positively identified as that of Sunil Tripathi, and said that while cause of death was unclear, foul play is not suspected. In a statement, the Tripathi family thanked supporters, and indicated that the positive identification of Sunil’s body brought “indescribable grief.”