Published: Fri, April 06, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

No signs of foul play in death of CDC scientist

No signs of foul play in death of CDC scientist

Timothy Cunningham, a 35-year-old Centers For Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist, vanished after leaving work February 12 complaining he felt unwell; some seven weeks later, his decomposed body was spotted by fishermen in a rugged area along the banks of the Atlanta area's Chattahoochee River, according to officials.

The Atlanta Police Department announced the results of the medical examiner over Twitter. 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.

Cunningham was a highly respected epidemiologist at the CDC, having risen through the ranks to become a team leader in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Cunningham, a commander in the Public Health Service who responded to public health emergencies including the Ebola virus and the Zika virus, disappeared on February 12 after he said he was sick and left his Atlanta office.

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Pending an unusual break in the case, O'Connor said that the case may be listed as inactive soon - possibly in a month's time.

The CDC denied that report, but Atlanta police stood by its statement.

Cunningham, a Harvard graduate, was wearing favorite jogging suit, officials said.

"But since the investigation is still open we do not yet have a manner of death of whether it's an accident, a suicide or anything other than that", Chief Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak said. However, the exact means by which Dr. Cunningham got to the river may never be revealed. In his home, they found his keys, phone, wallet containing his credit and debit cards and identification, and they even found his passport. Officials with the CDC said he actually received an early promotion to Commander, effective July 1, which contradicted what was said during a police news conference. His sister, Tiara Cunningham, the last family member who spoke with Cunningham before he disappeared, said she felt lost without her brother.

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This breaking news story is being updated as more information emerges - please refresh the page for the most recent version. He tweeted about 15 minutes later saying he was "safe" and that he had been evacuated.

"CDR Timothy Cunningham's colleagues and friends at CDC are deeply saddened to learn of his death".

Cunningham's work at the CDC fueled speculation and conspiracy theories about his disappearance, including one dubious story on a website that said Cunningham disappeared amid warnings that his patients were dying from botched flu vaccines.

Four times since their son went missing, Cunningham's parents have been told that a body had been found.

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