On February 12, 2018 Georgia Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee, Timothy Cunningham, left work allegedly saying he felt sick and later walked out of his house never to be seen again.
The 35-year-old epidemiologist’s sudden disappearance and his role at the CDC piqued American curiosity and prompted a nationwide search. At least one mainstream news outlet called the disappearance “unusual,” and that is certainly no understatement.
The Harvard University grad played a pivotal role in addressing recent, emerging outbreaks — including the Ebola and Zika viruses.
The young doctor’s body was found earlier this week by fishermen in Northern Atlanta, “badly decomposed” and stuck in the mud near the Chattahoochee River. On Thursday, authorities used dental records to confirm the body was that of Timothy Cunningham, according to Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Jan Gorniack.
Although the investigation is still ongoing, Gorniak says that no foul play is suspected. “Besides being decomposed it was an unremarkable autopsy,” she said.
Although the river had been searched shortly after his disappearance, the body had not been discovered at that time. The fire department had said, they “did not find any indication or signs of a body being in the river at that time” they had initially searched. Additionally, the area Cunningham was discovered was not considered an easy to access area, but it was near his home.
Atlanta police Maj. Michael O’Connor said that Cunningham was an avid jogger and that he was still wearing his favorite pair of running shoes when his body was discovered. NYDailyNews notes that “he would not further speculate on the events leading up to his death.”
Cunningham was found with three crystals in his pocket – something he allegedly liked to collect.
But nothing else was reported as found. When he left his home months ago, he also left behind his wallet, keys, phone and unattended dog. All things his parents discovered in the home when they learned of his disappearance.
This turn of events is already creating more questions than answers in the minds of Americans.
For instance, as NY Daily New reports [emphasis mine]:
The day he disappeared, Atlanta police said Cunningham learned he would not be receiving a promotion to branch manager — but the CDC has since walked back claims that Cunningham had been passed over for the position.
“In fact, he received an early promotion/exceptional proficiency promotion to Commander effective July 1, 2017 in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service,” the agency said in a March statement.
Multiple agencies responded to the scene behind the Atlanta Public Safety House along Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, where they discovered Cunningham’s body, not too far from his home.
But…no foul play suspected, of course…
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