A body recovered this week from a river in Atlanta has been identified as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist who vanished in February, Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos said Thursday.
The remains of Timothy Cunningham, 35, were found Tuesday in the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta, Campos said.
Cunningham, of Atlanta, was last seen February 12, shortly after a CDC supervisor told him why he was being passed over for a promotion.
The disappearance prompted a high-profile police search and a $10,000 reward for clues. As days went on, internet rumors circulated that Cunningham’s disappearance was tied to his alleged role as a flu vaccine whistle-blower. The rumors were debunked by police and his family.
The case perplexed investigators because Cunningham’s keys, cell phone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet and all forms of identification were found in his house, along with his beloved dog.
In announcing that his body had been found, authorities offered no hint about why he disappeared, reports Fox News.
Co-workers told authorities that Cunningham had been “obviously disappointed” on the morning of February 12, when he learned why he wasn’t getting the promotion he’d hoped for, police have said. He left work quickly, saying he felt ill, they said.
Earlier that morning, at 5:21 a.m., Cunningham’s mother had received a text message from him, she has said. “Are you awake?” her son asked. But her phone was on silent mode. “I wish I had that opportunity to answer that text,” she said later.
Cunningham also called his mother at 9:12 a.m. that day, but she did not answer, Atlanta police have said. He did not leave a message.
UPDATE: The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office has identified the body recovered in the Chattahoochee River in NW Atlanta late Tuesday to be missing CDC employee Timothy Cunningham. A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. ET at APD Headquarters on the investigation. pic.twitter.com/PlAGiqHO5P
— Atlanta Police Dept (@Atlanta_Police) April 5, 2018
It’s unclear how Cunningham’s body ended up at that part of the river. An official cause of death has yet to be released, but a preliminary autopsy suggested the 35-year-old drowned, the medical examiner said at the Thursday news conference.
Three crystals were found in Cunningham’s pockets when his body was recovered. Cunningham, who was last seen leaving work early on Feb. 12, was an avid crystal collector. The ones found on Cunningham were described as “rare crystals.”
For weeks, authorities scavenged for clues as to where the CDC employee may have been. O’Connor said in late February the disappearance was an “extremely unusual set of circumstances.”
“The most unusual fact, in this case, is that every single belonging that we are aware of was located in the residence,” O’Connor said. “So his keys, cell phone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet, all of his identification, passports – anything you can think of we’ve been able to locate.”
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
April 5th, 2018