Sunil Tripathi’s body has been found, the Providence Journal reports. The Brown University student, who had been missing since March, was falsely identified as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings last week by users on Twitter and on Reddit.
Rhode Island Health Department spokesperson Dara Chadwick confirmed the identification to Poynter in a phone call: “We can confirm that the young man found … is 22-year-old Sunil Tripathi,” Chadwick said. “It was confirmed through a forensic dental examination. … I don’t have cause of death at this time.”
“On April 23, our beloved Sunil was discovered in the waters off India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island,” his family wrote on Facebook.
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.
A tweet ID’ing Tripathi as a suspect rocketed around the Internet last week after the FBI released images of the suspects. The Atlantic chronicled the spread of misinformation, beginning with a tweet by a user named Greg Hughes.
Reporters from media outlets including Politico, BuzzFeed and Newsweek retweeted Tripathi’s name, Alexis Madrigal reported.
Tripathi’s parents “were hysterical” after the false ID, his sister Sangeeta told The Boston Globe’s Yvonne Abraham.
They froze the Facebook page they had launched for Sunil’s search and tried to avoid social media. They attempted a game of Scrabble. Sangeeta got 58 calls between 3 and 4 a.m. Some reporters left polite messages, but not all: “This is your one opportunity to save your brother’s life,” Sangeeta recalled one saying.
Reddit General Manager Erik Martin apologized for Reddit’s role in spreading misinformation about the manhunt: “Some of the activity on Reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties,” he wrote.
Martin is scheduled to join a Poynter discussion today at 2 p.m. ET titled “How do citizens best participate in the gathering and distribution of news?”
Correction: This post originally misidentified Sangeeta Tripathi’s relationship to Sunil.