A body pulled from the water off India 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.
The body of 22-year-old Sunil Tripathi was identified through dental records, Health Department spokeswoman Dara Chadwick said Thursday.
It was not immediately clear when Tripathi, who was last seen March 15, died. The cause of death has also not been determined.
Police said that no signs of trauma were found initially and that the investigation could take months.
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.
Tripathi grew up in Radnor, Pa., outside Philadelphia, and was studying philosophy, the university said in a statement. He was also an accomplished saxophonist.
“He was known to be a serious, thoughtful, intellectually curious student and a brilliant writer,” said Brown President Christina Paxson. “Sunil will be remembered by all who knew him for his gentle demeanor and generous spirit.”