22-year-old Sunil Tripathi was wrongly identified as the person responsible for the Boston Bombings. He had been missing from home since March 16 but Thursday police confirmed that a body dragged out of a river running through the city of Providence was Sunil.
Sunil's family have spoken to the media expressing their thanks for messages of support which they said poured in from around the world. The trouble is as always it is too little too late and will not bring back their son.
Sunil, an intelligent philosophy student with a bright future was misidentified on social media as a suspect in the Boston bombing case. In some ways this may have helped bring the missing man into the media spotlight. When he died is not confirmed but the Rhode Island health department said it had used dental records to confirm the identity. A medical examiner said foul play is not suspected.
Even though social media had ultimately lead to him being wrongly accused of the bombings his friends and family had used facebook to launch a campaign to encourage him to return home. A youtube video begged Sunil to return home and his image stuck in people's minds. In retrospect it was probably already too late for Sunil.
Sunil had suffered from bouts of depression last year so the authorities are working on the assumption that he committed suicide. The death of Sunil offers a cautionery tale to those online that launch witch-hunts. Reddit a social-news forum has apologised to the family for what they said turned into a “witch-hunt”. Did Sunil die before or after the Boston Bombings on April 15? Western countires have legal means and recourse and we do not need vigilantes. A family statement is worth publishing and is shown below,
“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. They added: “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.
The family are going to establish a memeorial fund in Sunil's name. They will "select organisations reflecting Sunil's spirit, particularly those focusing on mental health and environmental sustainability.” They would like donations rather than flowers in due course. For now they have their grief which must run its course.
RIP and condolences