Police Find Body Of Missing CDC Doctor In A River

Timothy Cunningham

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who mysteriously vanished seven weeks ago has been found dead in a river in northwest Atlanta, authorities said on Thursday.

The area - not far from Cunningham's home - was inaccessible by walking, police said, and they struggled to find a place to launch a boat to reach his remains.

"The major drivers of this are decreases in numerous leading causes of death, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke", Cunningham told NPR's Rob Stein.

Atlanta Police Maj. Michael O'Connor said that Cunningham had shared some "concerns at work" as well as "some personal issues" with family the day before he disappeared. However, the exact means by which Dr. Cunningham got to the river may never be revealed.

Cunningham has been missing since February 12 in Georgia. Gorniak also said that there were no obvious signs of foul play.

Cunningham also called his mother at 9:12 a.m. that day, but she did not answer, Atlanta police have said. "His keys, his cellphone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet, all of his identification, passports".

"We found that to be an unusual circumstance in a missing persons case", Major O'Connor told reporters at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

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He was last seen leaving work early after telling his colleagues that he didn't feel well. Cunningham lived near the river where his body was found and was an avid jogger, and he had been wearing a jogging outfit.

The manner of death has not been determined at this time, the medical examiner said. 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. "In fact, he received an early promotion/exceptional proficiency promotion to Commander effective July 1, 2017, in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)", the CDC said in a March 12 statement.

"Tim's impact will be felt not only through his significant contributions to CDC's mission, but also through his influence on the lives of his colleagues and friends".

By outward appearances, Cunningham seemed to have a successful career.

Cunningham's father told The New York Times in February that he'd been anxious about his son recently because he didn't seem like his usual self in conversation.

Family members expressed grave concern after several days passed without anyone being able to reach Cunningham.

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