No Signs of Foul Play in Death of CDC Employee Timothy Cunningham

Timothy Cunningham
Timothy Cunningham
Screenshot: ABC News

Officials say they’ve found no signs of foul play in the death of Timothy Cunningham, a CDC employee who disappeared nearly two months ago. Cunningham’s body was discovered Tuesday, pulled from the Chattahoochee River in Northwest Atlanta.


In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak told reporters that the preliminary cause of death is drowning. As CNN reports, Gorniak also said that the condition Cunningham’s body was found in was “consistent” with having been in the river since he had gone missing on Feb. 12.

While a final report from the medical examiner is yet to come, police expect to close the case soon if no new information comes out. They acknowledged that they may never know how Cunningham got in the river.


A highly respected epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cunningham was recovered wearing his favorite jogging attire, ABC News reports. He also was an avid collector of crystals, Atlanta Police Maj. Michael O’Connor said at Thursday’s press conference, and three were found in his pocket when he was pulled up from the river.

Co-workers who saw the 35-year-old Morehouse and Harvard grad said he was “obviously disappointed” on the last morning he was seen, according to CNN. Police say that Cunningham had learned that day why he hadn’t gotten a recent promotion he had been up for, and he left work early, saying that he felt sick.

The CDC has disputed that claim, saying that he had been given a promotion in July.


Doubt continues to swirl about Cunningham’s emotional state the morning he disappeared. From CNN:

That morning, at 5:21 a.m., Cunningham’s mother had received a text message from him, she has said. “Are you awake?” her son asked. But her phone was on silent mode. “I wish I had that opportunity to answer that text,” she said later.

Cunningham also called his mother at 9:12 a.m. that day, but she did not answer, Atlanta police have said. He did not leave a message.


After the press conference, Cunningham’s family released a statement thanking the public for the support and kindness they’d shown.

“We are processing this incomprehensible loss and request time and space to grieve,” they wrote.

Staff writer, The Root.

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Wait... There are so many questions left unanswered for them to be prepared to close the case soon.

How can they say for certain that there was no foul play when they have no idea how he got into the river?

Could he have fallen in? Could he swim? Even if he could, why would he have been in the river in jogging gear?

And which is it? Did he not get the promotion he wanted or did he recently get a promotion?

What else was going on that gives an indication that he would have hurt himself?

Damn, I can’t imagine how his mom and other friends and family must feel. How tragic!