Missing CDC doctor Timothy Cunningham was last seen on February 12. But on Tuesday, a body was recovered from the Chattahoochee River and has since been identified as the 35-year-old epidemiologist. Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos made the announcement on Thursday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Cunningham was last seen leaving work after complaining to co-workers that he wasn’t feeling well. Co-workers said that the day he left work, Cunningham had gotten news that he was passed over for a new position and was upset about it. He appeared to make it home as evidenced by the fact that his wallet, keys, dog, and cellphone were found locked inside his Atlanta home. Cunningham’s vehicle was also parked on the property.
Family members expressed grave concern after several days passed without anyone being able to reach Cunningham. After working so hard to achieve as much as he had, it didn’t make sense that the doctor would just leave it all behind. His father described it as “abnormal” behavior.
A widespread search of the area was conducted and a $10,000 reward was offered for any information about Cunningham’s whereabouts. Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. issued a statement on March 12 addressing the Morehouse and Harvard graduate saying that if “Tim reads this message,” they hope that he comes home soon. According to Fox 5 News, Schuchat also said that contrary to earlier reports, Cunningham had been promoted to Commander as of July 1, 2017.
Atlanta Police Maj. Michael O’Connor said that Cunningham had shared some “concerns at work” as well as “some personal issues” with family the day before he disappeared. WSB-TV reported that the esteemed doctor had texted his mother at 5:21 a.m. and then called her at 9:12 a.m. on Feb.12. But she never spoke to him as her phone was set to silent mode. Cunningham did not leave a voicemail.
At Thursday’s press conference, Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak said that the preliminary cause of death was drowning. The manner of death, however, has yet to be determined. Gorniak also said that there were no obvious signs of foul play. The investigation is ongoing.