Sunil Tripathi, a 22-year-old college student who was incorrectly linked to the Boston bombings, has been found dead in Providence River, Rhode Island.
According to Providence police spokeswoman Laura Lague, the body was found by a Brown University rowing coach. Officials were able to confirm through dental records that the body was that of Sunil Tripathi.
Rhode Island authorities are investigating, but so far the cause of death is unknown. The medical examiner announced that there are no signs of foul play.
The Tripathi family was devastated by the news. Sunil’s sister, Sangeeta, told CNN’s Piers Morgan, “Our family has been working tirelessly looking night and day, looking everywhere for him. We were just praying that Sunil was OK.” The family released a statement earlier today asking that the public, “exercise caution and treat human lives with delicacy.”
It’s not a surprising reaction considering the controversy surrounding Sunil. Shortly after the Boston bombings, members of the Reddit community went on an Internet manhunt and eventually concluded that Sunil could be one of the suspects because of his resemblance to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. There are indeed noticeable physical similarities between the two men, but Redditors made the claims without much substantial evidence and sparked an online witch hunt.
The ordeal was so bad, in fact, that the moderator of the subreddit FindBoston Bombers posted, “I'd like to extend the deepest apologies to the family of Sunil Tripathi for any part we may have had in relaying what has turned out to be faulty information. We cannot begin to know what you're going through and for that we are truly sorry. Several users, twitter users, and other sources had heard him identified as the suspect and believed it to be confirmed. We were mistaken.”
Additionally, Reddit general manager Erik Martin made a public apology to the Tripathi family for the website’s “dangerous speculation” that “spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties.”
Brown University is planning a memorial service to honor Sunil and his family.