The body of a researcher from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was pulled from a river in Atlanta, police said Thursday, almost two months after he mysteriously went missing.
Doctor's Body Found Decomposing in RiverTimothy Cunningham's body was found Tuesday, April 3, partially submerged in water and a great deal of mud on the west bank of the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta, fire -rescue department spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford said at a press conference.
According to the Atlanta Police Department, the Fulton County medical examiner positively identified a body pulled from the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta as 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. The site where the body was found was not far from Cunningham's house, said Major Michael O'Connor of the Atlanta Police Dept.'s Major Crimes Section.
Stafford couldn't say whether the body had been in the area when it was canvassed on February 23. On Monday this week, Cunningham's parents told the FOX News sister station in Cleveland their son provided a clue 24 hours before his disappearance, claiming they received a "disturbing" text from him but wouldn't elaborate. "None of those items are missing", O'Connor said. 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. He vanished under mysterious circumstances including that he was reported to be a whistleblower and that he passed over for a promotion.
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Those are the words of the Atlanta Police Department's Homicide and Missing Person's Unit. He had also called in sick February 8 and 9, the two previous workdays, O'Connor said.
The CDC said in a statement sent to CNN that Cunningham's "colleagues and friends at CDC are deeply saddened to learn of his death".
Friends said Cunningham was smart and caring, with a big grin and big hugs to match. So was his beloved Tibetan spaniel, which concerned his family.
Timothy Cunningham was a Morehouse College and Harvard University graduate. He worked on public health emergencies including Superstorm Sandy, the Ebola outbreak and the Zika virus.