University News

Search for missing undergrad expands

There are no leads in the investigation of Sunil Tripathi’s disappearance last weekend

Features Editor
Friday, March 22, 2013

Family members, friends and police officers are still searching for Sunil Tripathi, a former member of the class of 2012 who went missing Saturday morning.

“Unfortunately, there are no leads yet,” wrote Tripathi’s mother Judy Tripathi in an email to The Herald, describing the search as “ongoing and intense.”

The Providence Police Department and the Department of Public Safety are continuing to search for Tripathi on foot and with a Providence police boat when possible, she wrote. Law enforcement officers are giving the case special attention, she said.

“This may not get solved quickly,” Judy Tripathi said. “The family is here in Providence for at least several more days,” she said, adding that additional family members have arrived to help with the search effort and friends are continuing to arrive.

DPS is also “looking through surveillance cameras on campus,” according to a post on a Facebook page created to help raise awareness of Tripathi’s disappearance.

Tripathi was last seen Saturday morning around 11 a.m. wearing jeans, a Philadelphia Eagles beanie and a black jacket. He is 130 pounds and 6 feet and two inches tall. Along with a note suggestive of suicidal intent, Tripathi left his wallet and credit cards in his apartment when he disappeared, according to a post on the page by Tripathi’s sister Sangeeta Tripathi ’04.

A “small core” of about 10 to 15 people have been searching for Tripathi on foot throughout the city, said Marie Atterbury ’12.5, a friend of Tripathi’s who flew in Tuesday to help search for him. Scores of friends and family members across the country who are unable to fly in are also helping remotely, “calling up people on the phone and mapping out places to look and doing research, looking at hospitals,” she added.

“We are aggressively pursuing the chance that Sunil is still out there,” Judy Tripathi wrote. “So we feel it is of utmost importance to continue the search.”

Atterbury said the family is exploring all avenues of searching.

“We’re trying to keep all options open, just channel this amazing amount of support and offers of help from the community and trying to use that in the most efficient and impactful way possible,” she said. “That might mean encouraging people to contact people in their own areas wherever they’re located.”

Searchers are starting to look at areas outside the city where Tripathi could have traveled by bus or where he might have contacts, particularly in Rhode Island and Boston, Atterbury added. Family members and friends are also considering expanding the search to other neighboring states, she said.

Other members of the Brown and Providence communities have also reached out to help with the search effort, Atterbury said.

“Friends in the area are helping to distribute flyers — we’ve even gotten offers from food trucks — and Sunil’s former workplaces have been assisting in distributing his picture around the state,” Atterbury wrote in an email to The Herald. Members of the saxophone ensemble with which Tripathi was affiliated have also participated in the search, she said.

“There have been swarms of Brown students searching on foot, posting notices in stores, on bulletin boards,” Judy Tripathi wrote.

University officials, including Deputy Chief of Police for DPS Paul Shanley, University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson and President Christina Paxson, have also met with the family, she wrote.

The crew team has been looking for Tripathi during its daily practices on the Seekonk River, said member Chris Farrow ’15.

“There’s a poster hung up in the boathouse,” Farrow said. “Our coach has basically told us to keep an eye out.”

Tripathi’s family and friends created a Facebook page titled “Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi” Tuesday to raise awareness of his disappearance. As of press time, over 600 people, including current students, had liked the page. Some of its posts have been viewed “over 3,000 times within hours of being posted,” Atterbury wrote.

The Facebook page has helped bring together geographically distant family members and friends who “really wanted to help out and really wanted to offer any suggestions that they had,” Atterbury said. “(The page) became a good facilitator for keeping all of this conversation together and organized.”

The page has served as a hub for collecting photographs of Tripathi, updating information about the search and organizing foot searches, with a Google map created by friends to chart places that have been combed by volunteers.

The activity on the page “is a testament to the profound degree to which (Tripathi) touches the lives of those around him,” Atterbury wrote.

She said the family has also been “overwhelmed with the support they’ve received.”

“They’re so grateful and so touched,” she said. “Especially the Brown community has done so much for them.”

Friends and family members encouraged anyone with information regarding Tripathi’s disappearance to contact Providence Detective Mark Sacco at (401) 641-8691.


  1. ifthishelps says:

    Probably this will turn out to be nothing, however, approx 5 days to a week ago I was reading through craigslist prov. and saw a post on missed connections about a male lamenting about being 6’2 or ‘3 and weighing 130lbs and sounded suicidal and how no one would want him (I guess b/c of his weight). It is not there now, but it was posted. I don’t know the exact day, but if it was posted after he disappeared, maybe craigslist could give the detective the I/p address of the posting. It seems after reading this article to be the same person that posted. My best wishes to the family.

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