Body Of Missing CDC Researcher Found, Police Confirm

Simon Moss
April 6, 2018

Officials confirm a body found late Tuesday evening in the Chattahoochee River is that of a CDC scientist who went missing over a month ago.

The Atlanta Police Department confirmed to Business Insider that Timothy Cunningham's body was recovered in the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta.

Fulton County Chief medical examiner Jan Gorniak determined the cause of death as drowning. Major Michael O'Connor spoke to media shortly after the department announced that a body found on Tuesday was that of Timothy Cunningham.

"He has this pristine service record and background, and then he's also the guy you can call to help you move furniture or get together with you at a restaurant at the end of a long day", close friend David Calloway told NBC News almost 12 days after Cunningham's disappearance.

Stafford couldn't say whether the body had been in the area when it was canvassed on February 23.

Earlier that morning, at 5:21 a.m., Cunningham's mother had received a text message from him, she has said.

On Thursday O'Connor said the circumstances around Cunningham's own death may never be understood.

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But Cunningham worked in the CDC's chronic disease unit, not in the section that deals with infectious disease, according to authorities.

O'Connor said last month he thought the disappearance was "extremely unusual", because all Cunningham's belongings were at his home. It gained so much attention that he CDC had to release a statement condemning the reports as false.

Cunningham drove off that day and was never seen alive again, even as his vehicle, credit and debit cards, dog, keys, and cellphone were all recovered at his home, the police said.

Almost two weeks later, the CDC said that information was untrue. "I can't tell you that he was jogging but those things together seem to indicate that that is a possibility".

Friends said Cunningham was smart and caring, with a big grin and big hugs to match.

When they arrived at his house a few days later, Cunningham's parents said, they knew something was wrong because his Tibetan spaniel was unattended. His work as a Public Health Service commander including responding to public health emergencies such as the Ebola virus and Zika virus.

Gorniak added that the condition of Cunningham's body is "consistent" with having been in the water since the day he went missing and there were no signs of trauma or underlying medical conditions.

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