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Sunil Tripathi's Facebook Updated, Body Found ID'd As Missing Student

By Hilda Scott , Apr 26, 2013 07:22 AM EDT

The body of missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi was identified Thursday by the Rhode Island medical examiner's office. Officials used a forensic dental exam to confirm the 22-year-old student's identity, but the cause of death is still unknown.

Tripathi's body was pulled from the Providence River at India Point Park late Tuesday afternoon. He was last seen alive on March 16 and the search began. Tripathi was on break and his phone, wallet and belongings were left in his apartment close to the Ivy League school's campus. Tripathi's sister, Sangeeta Tripathi, told that it was very unlike her brother to just disappear without notice.

Last week, social media reported the 22-year-old student's resemblance to one of the wanted suspects of the Boston bombings. His name became a trending topic on Twitter, gaining even more attention. The rumor spread to Twitter and Facebook and appears to have started on another social media site, Reddit. The photo that was released was actually of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is now captured, not Sunil Tripathi. The negative attention added to the already tiresome ordeal for the Tripathi family. 

In an effort to find their son, the Tripathi family set up a Facebook page called "Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi." Comments on the Facebook page devoted to the search for Tripathi became so hostile that the family had to deactivate the account for awhile.

The family said that Tripathi was going through a rough time and had mood problems, although he was never diagnosed with depression.

"It kind of bound us together. We all came and communicated with him as much as possible, and both our nuclear family and our extended family had extensive contact with him, which is part of what makes this disappearance just so troublesome for us. And so unknown," Tripathi's brother, Ravi Tripathi said.

"For more than a month our community has sought to support the Tripathi family in their courageous and tireless efforts to search for Sunil," Brown University President Christina Paxton said. 

Thursday morning, after receiving the sad news, the family posted a new message on the Facebook page account:

"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," wrote the Tripathi family on the Facebook page. 

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