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CDC Employee Timothy Cunningham Found Dead In River Months After Mysterious Disappearance

The preliminary cause of death is drowning, but the investigation is ongoing for an official cause.

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

The body of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employee Timothy Cunningham turned up in a river in Atlanta this week, two months after his mysterious disappearance, officials said Thursday.

The Atlanta Police Department revealed that Cunningham's corpse had been recovered in the Chattahoochee River on Tuesday. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office identified the body two days later. 

Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak said the autopsy was completed on Wednesday and Cunningham's body identified through dental records. She noted that the preliminary cause of death is drowning, but the investigation is ongoing for an official cause. It's also unclear if the suspected drowning was accidental.

There were no signs of foul play, Gorniak said.

Chief Byron Kennedy, first deputy chief of the Atlanta Police Department, said that a swift water dive team was deployed to assist with the search. 

Cunningham, 35, disappeared mysteriously in February. Cunningham aided the CDC in responses to Ebola and Zika outbreaks. He went missing after leaving work early in Chamblee, Georgia. He had told his colleagues that he felt ill and was going to work remotely, according to USA Today. 

Friends and family remember him behaving strangely prior to his disappearance. He called his sister and was described as sounding different or, not his usual self. 

A neighbor, Viviana Tory, claimed Cunningham told her husband to instruct her "to erase his cellphone number from my cellphone," according to CBS News.

Cunningham's family members spoke out following his disappearance, noting that Cunningham left his dog unattended and his car parked in his driveway. Cunningham's cell phone and keys were also in the house.

"None of this makes sense," his brother Anterio Cunningham told Fox5Atlanta in February. "He wouldn't just evaporate like this and leave his dog alone and have our mother wondering and worrying like this. He wouldn't."

Cunningham's family partnered with Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta to offer a $10,000 reward for information that lead to an arrest.

[Photo: Atlanta Police Department]

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