Body of Missing CDC Worker Found

CDC denies missing worker was passed over for promotion

The body of Timothy Cunningham, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who mysteriously disappeared two months ago, was found late Tuesday in an Atlanta river that runs near his home, police said Thursday. They believe that he drowned and no foul play was at hand, PEOPLE reports. One popular rumor was that he was a whistle-blower who had warned others at the CDC that the vaccine used for the flu season had caused some of the high number of deaths from the illness.

Police Maj. Michael O'Connor previously said that Cunningham had told his colleagues that he was not well, then headed home early from work. The scientist was wearing his favorite running shoes, O'Connor added.

Fulton County Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak said the cause of death is "probably" drowning.

In a news conference on February 27, Atlanta police said Cunningham had been passed over for a promotion the week before he disappeared. But police have found no evidence that Cunningham's disappearance was directly tied to his lack of promotion. At the time of his disappearance, police were baffled by what they called an extremely unusual set of circumstances.

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The case perplexed investigators because Cunningham's keys, cell phone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet and all forms of identification were found in his house, along with his beloved dog.

Cunningham's parents were notified by police about four bodies found as part of the search, only to be told later that none of them was of their son.

Volunteers spent countless hours searching for any trace of the 35-year-old but didn't have any luck.

The manner of death has not been determined at this time, the medical examiner said. In the statement, it said that Cunningham had in fact received an early promotion for his outstanding work.

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Cunningham reportedly called his sister the morning he was last seen.

"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".

The agency said he'd been deployed to work on numerous public-health emergencies, including Superstorm Sandy, the Ebola outbreak, and the Zika outbreak.

The condition of the body is consistent with Cunningham being gone since February 12, the medical examiner said.

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

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