UPDATED: 4:05 p.m. EDT, April 5 –
The Atlanta Police Department offered more information Thursday afternoon in the case involving Timothy Cunningham, the missing Center For Disease Control and Prevention scientist whose decomposed body was found in the Chattahoochee River on Tuesday night.
“There is no indication of foul play involving Dr. Cunningham,” Major Michael O’Connor, Major Crimes Commander for the Atlanta Police Department, said during a press conference. However, he acknowledged that the case was “ongoing” and “things could change.”
The primary cause of death is believed to be drowning based on the autopsy, Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak told reporters. The manner of death has not been confirmed, she added.
The Atlanta Police Department had previously searched the Chattahoochee River on February 23, but turned up nothing, Sergeant Cortez Stafford said. They were called out to the same area of the river near the Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway at approximately 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night after a report of a body having been found.
Several men who were fishing saw the body and notified 911, O’Connor said.
The location was “difficult to access” and required the department’s Swift Water Rescue team to perform a “technical operation.” Officials put boats on the water and were able to find Cunningham’s body, which was not “too far” from his home.
The scientist, who O’Connor said was a jogger, was found with jogging shoes, but no identification or keys on him.
Authorities made a positive identification of the body by using dental records, Gorniak said. The condition of his body is “consistent” with him having been missing since February 12, she also said.
Police are waiting for a medical examiner’s report to be finalized. Authorities want to make sure that there are “no other indicators or problems” and want to obtain a toxicology screen to see if it will offer any new clues about the doctor. The case could “likely close fairly soon,” O’Connor said, adding that “pretty much everyone of importance in the doctor’s life” was interviewed by police. More information would provide further insight into what happened to Cunningham, O’Connor explained.
Cunningham, a Morehouse graduate, had disappeared in February after leaving his job early and feeling sick. A $10,000 reward was offered in his disappearance.
The body of the Center For Disease Control and Prevention scientist who had been missing for nearly two months has been found in a river, officials said on Thursday.
Timothy Cunningham, who is Black, 35, was last seen leaving the CDC office in Atlanta on February 12 over an illness. His parents, Tia and Terrell Cunningham later visited his home after not being able to reach him and found his belongings inside his residence. Missing flyers were circulated, and media stories captured Cunningham’s parents as well as his sister’s grief in the days after his disappearance. The case, investigated by the Atlanta Police Department, has now come to a shocking and tragic end.
A body discovered in the Chattahoochee River on Tuesday night was positively identified as Cunningham’s, Atlanta police confirmed on Thursday afternoon, 11 Alive reported.
Authorities were contacted by an unnamed fishermen who discovered the body on the Atlanta side of the river. The location of the gruesome discovery is about 400 yards upstream from a bridge, just east of the Atlanta Public Safety Annex, officials said.
The body was decomposing, and rescuers could not determine how long it had been in the water.
In the days before Cunningham’s disappearance, a neighbor had reported that he was acting strange. Police also said in late February that the man was up for a promotion at work that he was passed over for, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, later, CDC officials retracted that statement.
Conspiracy theorists also jumped out the woodwork with possible claims on why Cunningham had disappeared.
A $10,000 reward had been offered in this disappearance, with police initially not suspecting any foul play.
A news conference about Cunningham has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon.