Authorities said it's "very, very possible" that the man's body pulled from the Providence River Tuesday is that of Sunil Tripathi, the Brown University student who went missing last month
and was later mistakenly identified on social media sites as possibly one of the Boston Marathon bombers.
Providence Police Lieutenant Joseph Donnelly said the body of a male between the ages of 20 and 30 was found by Brown's rowing coach, who spotted something floating in the Providence River around 6 p.m. Tuesday and called police.
Authorities won't know the identity of the body until an autopsy has been performed by the Rhode Island medical examiner's office, but they speculated that the remains may be 22-year-old Tripathi.
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Providence police and the FBI have been searching for Sunil "Sunny" Tripathi, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., ever since he went missing in mid-March.
Tripathi, who had been on leave from Brown this semester and was living in an apartment in Providence with some classmates, was last seen in the apartment around 11 a.m. March 16.
An initial police sweep of Tripathi's room found his cellphone, credit card, ID, and other personal items, but his sister said his glasses and his Philadelphia Eagles wool cap were gone. His family said he had been battling depression but was doing well in the weeks leading up to his disappearance.
As several images of potential Boston bombing suspects circulated online last week, some users on the social news site Reddit speculated that one of the olive-skinned men looked like Tripathi
, setting off a firestorm of accusations. A Reddit moderator issued an apology to the Tripathi family soon after.
"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," the moderator of the FindBostonBombers subreddit wrote in a statement. "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."
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