Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Dr Timothy Cunningham, 35, the Navy Commander and scientist deployed as Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been found dead, nearly two months after he went missing, authorities said Thursday.
The body of Timothy Cunningham was found Tuesday in the Chattachoochee River in Atlanta, the Atlanta police department said at a Thursday news conference. Officials told reporters they found no indication of foul play. The preliminary cause of death is drowning.
“We may never be able to tell you how he got into the river,” Major Michael O’Connor of Atlanta Police told reporters. O’Connor said the river wasn’t that far from Cunningham’s home. The scientist was wearing his favorite running shoes, O’Connor added.
Navy Commander Cunningham deployed as a CDC scientist and researcher responding to public health emergencies such as the Ebola and Zika viruses, vanished on Feb. 12.
The investigation is still under way, so the manner of death has not been determined, the medical examiner said.
Cunningham left work in the Atlanta office on Feb. 12, saying that he was sick after learning he was passed over for promotion. But police have found no evidence that Cunningham’s disappearance was directly tied to his lack of promotion.
O’Connor said last month he thought the disappearance was “extremely unusual,” because all Cunningham’s belongings were at his home.
“His keys, his cell phone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet, all his identification, passport — everything you can think of, we’ve been able to locate. None of those items are missing,” O’Connor said.
EARLIER: Dr Timothy Cunningham, A CDC Scientist & Navy Commander Vanishes – Dr Timothy J. Cunningham, ScD, a scientist, who works as Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), disappeared without a trace after he left the office midway on February 12, saying he was feeling ill.
The military intelligence officer, Timothy J. Cunningham, 35, is a Doctor of science, a Harvard-educated epidemiologist and US Navy Commander,
His parents became concerned when he wouldn’t answer any texts or calls. They drove all the way from Maryland to Atlanta, Georgia, after some relatives went by and saw his house was empty and two windows were open. Inside the house, they found Cunningham’s phone, wallet and driver’s license. His car was still parked in the garage and his dog, Mr. Bojangles, aka Beau, was left on his own.
“Tim never leaves Beau unattended,” the missing man’s father, Terrell Cunningham reportedly said. “He just doesn’t do it.”
“None of this makes sense,” Timothy’s brother Anterio added. “He wouldn’t just evaporate like this and leave his dog alone and have our mother wondering and worrying like this. He wouldn’t.”
“I feel like I’m in a horrible Black Mirror episode,” his sister Tiara said.
With two degrees from Harvard, Cunningham worked on the government’s response to the Zika and Ebola crises. He had recently been promoted to the rank of commander by the Navy, and was one of The Atlanta Business Chronicle’s ‘40 Under 40 Award’ winners. But family members said in recent calls and texts that Cunningham seemed to not be himself.
Family, friends, and Timothy’s college alumni are all taking part in the search, and have raised more than $20,000 as a reward for any information, a sign of the high regard in which Cunningham was held. His family hopes that someone may recognize him somewhere, perhaps as a patient at a hospital.
According to the CDC:
“Timothy J. Cunningham, ScD, is a team lead with CDC’s Division of Population Health. Dr. Cunningham trained with CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer. His research has been oriented towards understanding health differences related to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and geography. Dr. Cunningham has also deployed for numerous public health emergencies, including Superstorm Sandy, Ebola, and Zika. He is an active member of the American Public Health Association and the American College of Epidemiology. Dr. Cunningham received his S.M. and Sc.D. from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.”
You can get involved by sharing this story to help find Doctor Cunningham. There is a reward on offer.