A body pulled from the Chattahoochee river is that of an Atlanta researcher for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who went missing in mid-February, Atlanta police reported on Thursday.
Timothy Cunningham, 35, was last seen February 12 after he left work midway through the day due to an illness, prompting his friends and family to sound the alarm.
Terrell Cunningham, 60, said his son’s supervisor told him that Commander Cunningham had reported for work but that he had left midday because he wasn’t feeling well. –NYT
The family of Timothy J. Cunningham, 35, grew concerned after the Harvard-trained epidemiologist and US Navy officer wouldn’t answer texts or calls. Driving over 600 miles from Maryland to Atlanta, Cunningham’s parents gained access to his house where they found their son’s phone, wallet and driver’s license.
Quoted by the NYT, his father said that Commander Cunningham had “a lot going on” personally and professionally, and his most recent conversation with his son had left him worried.
“The tone, and the numerous exchanges gave us reason to be concerned about Tim,” said Terrell Cunningham. “And 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.”
Cunningham’s car was parked in the garage, while his dog – Mr. Bojangles, aka Bo, was left all by himself.
“Tim never leaves Bo unattended,” Terrell Cunningham told NBC News. “He just doesn’t do it.”
“None of this makes sense,” Timothy’s brother Anterio told Atlanta Fox affiliate WAGA-TV. “He wouldn’t just evaporate like this and leave his dog alone and have our mother wondering and worrying like this. He wouldn’t.”
“I feel like I’m in a horrible Black Mirror episode,” Cunningham’s sister Tiara told the New York Times. “I’m kind of lost without him, to be quite honest.”
Tiara was the last family member to speak with Timothy Cunningham before his disappearance – who said the last time they spoke her brother “sounded not like himself.” When she texted him a bit later, she didn’t get a response – nor did the rest of the Cunningham family.
Atlanta police said Cunningham had been upset over not receiving a promotion – however the CDC later retracted that information, stating that he had in fact recently received one.
Cunningham – who was promoted to commander in the US Public Health Service last July, had worked on the government’s response to both Zika and Ebola outbreaks. With two degrees from Harvard’s School of Public Health, he had been named one of The Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 under 40” award winners.