On Thursday, April 5, the Atlanta Police Department confirmed the body of missing CDC scientist Timothy Cunningham, 35, was found in the Chattahoochee River, which is located in northwest Atlanta, on Tuesday night. The river is not far from Cunningham’s home and the Atlanta Police Department had previously searched the Chattahoochee River on February 23. Police were called out to the same area of the river at approximately 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night after fisherman found a partially submerged body.
The primary cause of death is believed to be a drowning based on the autopsy, Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak told reporters. However, additional information could not be provided because they are still awaiting toxicology reports. “Since the investigation is ongoing, we do not have … whether it was an accident, a suicide, or anything other than that” Cunningham drowned, Gorniak said. According to the Associated Press, Maj. Michael O’Connor of the Atlanta Police Department’s Major Crimes Section said, “At this stage, we are waiting for some information from the medical examiner’s office — or if someone were to bring new information to us that was relevant, then we would obviously look at that — but absent those circumstances, this case will likely close fairly soon.”
However, there is one key clue. CNN.com reports that Cunningham’s body was found wearing “his favorite jogging shoes” — he was known to be a jogger. In addition, he was reportedly a collector of crystal and there were three crystals found in his pocket. He had no keys or identification on him. Cunningham’s house was found with his wallet, cell phone, car and dog left behind.
Timothy Cunningham 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. The Cunningham family released a statement Thursday night, “We sincerely thank all of you for the support and kindness you have shown our family during this difficult time. We are processing this incomprehensible loss and request time and space to grieve.”
Our condolences goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy.