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Search for missing undergrad continues

Sunil Tripathi's parents and siblings have been working with local police in an effort to locate him

The Department of Public Safety and the Providence Police Department are continuing to search for a former undergraduate student who disappeared Saturday morning.

Sunil Tripathi, former member of the class of 2012, was discovered missing Sunday morning when a friend of Tripathi’s found a note suggestive of suicidal intent with his belongings in his apartment, said Tripathi’s sister Sangeeta Tripathi ’04.

The friend immediately called Tripathi’s family and the police, she added.

Tripathi was last seen in his 204 Angell St. residence Saturday morning around 11 a.m., Sangeeta Tripathi said. Earlier reports said Tripathi had last been seen Friday night.

Tripathi has brown eyes and short brown hair. He weighs 130 pounds and is 6 feet 2 inches tall, and he was wearing blue jeans, a Philadelphia Eagles beanie and a black sweatshirt.

DPS and Providence Police officers arrived at the residence early Sunday afternoon to launch an investigation, notifying hospitals in the area and police departments in nearby municipalities of the disappearance, said Detective Sergeant Bernard Gannon of the Providence Police Department.

Providence police officers have begun conducting a “pretty extensive” search spanning “mostly the East Side area,” Gannon said. Officers are searching by boat and “with manned teams on the waterfront areas,” Sangeeta Tripathi said.

“They’re doing some very active work in some common places where people may go,” she said. In addition to searching waterways, police officers have searched India Point Park, Blackstone Boulevard and Roger Williams Park.

The Providence Police Department has taken the lead in the investigation, wrote Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn in an email to The Herald. The University is providing “the full cooperation of Brown police officers and University staff,” she wrote.

Tripathi’s parents, Judy and Akhil Tripathi, sister, Sangeeta, and brother, Ravi Tripathi ’09, have been coordinating with Providence officers since they arrived in Providence Sunday night. They met with the missing persons unit Monday, Gannon said.

Since his disappearance, family and police have looked at Tripathi’s computer “trying to piece together the story of what happened before he left,” Sangeeta Tripathi said.

“There was very little information,” she said. Police have conducted a “pretty large blanket search” that has not turned up any meaningful leads, she added.

“It’s just a very scary time for all of us,” Sangeeta Tripathi '04 said. “I’m just praying, and people are kind of out of ideas.”

Family members posted flyers Monday in places Tripathi frequented, including Thayer Street, Wayland Square and Kennedy Plaza, Sangeeta Tripathi said. All patrol units have been given copies of the flyer and are looking for Tripathi, Gannon said. Police have also distributed his photograph to local television news outlets, he said.

The family appeared on local news outlet NBC 10 Monday night to raise awareness of Tripathi’s disappearance, Gannon said.

Members of both sides of Tripathi’s extended family are also in town or arriving this week “to help be an extra set of eyes and ears,” Sangeeta Tripathi said.

Tripathi’s housemates are shaken by his disappearance and said they are concerned and hope he returns safely.

A former philosophy concentrator, Tripathi played saxophone with the wind ensemble and in a saxophone quartet before taking a leave after the spring of his junior year in 2011, Sangeeta Tripathi said.

Tripathi was “struggling with depression,” she said. After taking leave, “he’d been living in Providence and taking time off to help get back on track and feel better about school and feel better about himself and his health and life,” she added.

Family and a close group of friends were “very involved” in helping Tripathi through that struggle, she said.

Though Tripathi had a history of depression, his sister described the disappearance as “very atypical.”

“There was never ever any history of self-harm or escalation or a rash act at all,” she said. “He had a good day the day before (he disappeared), so we’re all just worried and sad and scared and just really hoping he’s safe.”

She described her brother as “the most shy, considerate, gentle young man.”

“Everyone who’s known him or worked with him or taken classes with him noticed this very sweet, shy guy,” she said. “We want him to be safe.”

The Office of Student Life contacted Tripathi’s family, Quinn wrote. “Our concerns are first and foremost with Sunil and his family,” she added.

The family spoke with University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson and hopes the administration will send out a campus-wide message with a photo of Tripathi to alert students to his disappearance and offer counseling support to those who may be distressed, Sangeeta Tripathi said. Members of the community can access counseling in the Office of Student Life by calling 401-863-3145, Quinn wrote.

“We will follow the lead (of) law enforcement on the best course of action to inform and solicit input from the community,” she wrote.

Tripathi’s family is urging anyone with information regarding his disappearance to contact the Providence Police at 401-641-8691 or the Department of Public Safety at 401-863-3322.


A previous version of this article quoted Sangeeta Tripathi ’04 describing her brother Sunil Tripathi as “really struggling with depression.” Though Tripathi struggled with depression, his depression was not extreme.


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