Published: Fri, April 06, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Body of missing CDC worker Timothy Cunningham found in Georgia river

Body of missing CDC worker Timothy Cunningham found in Georgia river

On Tuesday night, fishermen contacted authorities after discovering a body in the Chattahoochee River near Donald L. Hollowell, about 400 yards upstream from the bridge, and on the Atlanta side of the river.

Cunningham left work in the Atlanta office on February 12, saying that he was sick after learning he was passed over for promotion. Michael O'Connor of the Atlanta Police told reporters in a Thursday afternoon press conference. Police have canvassed his neighborhood, nearby woods, a cemetery and other areas, finding no clues on his whereabouts.

Preliminary findings show the CDC worker who went missing almost two months ago may have drowned, the Fulton County medical examiner said Thursday.

There were no signs of foul play in the death of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist, said Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak. "Therefore, his sudden disappearance is highly irregular and very much out of character for him".

Cunningham has been missing since February 12, when he left work early, telling co-workers he was feeling ill.

As days went on, internet rumors circulated that Cunningham's disappearance was tied to his alleged role as a flu vaccine whistle-blower.

Still, those who knew Cunningham said he was struggling.

When they arrived at their son's house after he went missing, the parents said, they felt something was wrong because he had left his Tibetan spaniel unattended. "None of those items are missing".

O'Connor said it was important to note that Cunningham was with the chronic disease unit of the CDC, not with the infectious disease unit.

"He had no access to classified material", O'Connor said.

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The incident took other freaky turns, too. Tory claimed Cunningham suggested they erase his number. O'Connor told reporters in February. Police spokesman D.T. Hannah said that no further information was available.

"The most unusual factor in this case is that every single belonging that we are aware of was located in the residence", O'Connor said.

Police had previously located Cunningham's keys, cellphone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet and passports.

Cunningham had no Uber or Lyft transactions that day, and his auto and dog, Mr. Bojangles, were found at his home, O'Connor added.

At the CDC, Cunningham was a team leader and researched health differences related to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and geography.

"The tone and the numerous exchanges gave us reason to be concerned about Tim", he said. "I often say, 'Lord, you have put me in this position". Inside Cunningham's home, the parents said they found his phone, wallet, keys and auto undisturbed.

"It takes you to a place that the light is not shining in", Terrell Cunningham told CNN.

"It was very hard to access the location where Mr. Cunningham was found", explained Sgt. Cortez Stafford with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department. Atlanta police responded by doubling down on their version of events, citing the CDC as the source of the information.

The article said he was continuing on his family's path into the medical field; his father was an Air Force nurse for 30 years, and his mother worked for the state health department as a program manager.

"Dr. Cunningham's colleagues and friends at CDC hope that he is safe", CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben told The Post.

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