ATLANTA (CBSNews) — A body found in the Chattahoochee River has been identified as missing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employee Timothy Cunningham, authorities announced Thursday. Cunningham has been missing since Feb. 12 in Georgia. The 35-year-old left work early that day saying he wasn’t feeling well, and wasn’t seen again.
Cunningham worked as an epidemiologist working in the CDC’s chronic disease unit.
Police previously said there was no evidence of foul play, but that it couldn’t be ruled out.
Cunningham’s family claimed that the 35-year-old had been behaving very strangely before vanishing without a trace two months ago. “I don’t know if it’s an instinct you have because it’s your child, but it was not a normal conversation and I was not comfortable,” Terrell Cunningham said about one of the last phone calls he had with his son.
The search for the missing scientist started after family members found Cunningham’s dog home alone, with his keys, wallet, and car still at the Atlanta residence on Feb. 14. During an April 5 press conference, Atlanta police could not explain why the CDC worker did not have any of his belongings with him when he died.
Police said Cunningham had been disappointed about being passed over for a promotion in February. But the CDC disputed that, saying that Cunningham been promoted to commander effective July 1 “in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service.”
According to Cunningham’s next-door neighbor, Viviana Tory, Cunningham said something odd to her husband the day he went missing.
“He told my husband to tell his wife — me — to erase his cellphone number from my cellphone,” Tory said.
His cause of death has not been released.
The CDC says Cunningham was a team leader in the agency’s Division of Population Health and had worked on numerous emergency cases including the Ebola and Zika outbreaks. A report that the 35-year-old was recently unhappy about being passed over for a promotion was later retracted by the CDC.
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