Published: Fri, April 06, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Missing CDC worker's body recovered in Atlanta river

Missing CDC worker's body recovered in Atlanta river

The body of an employee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who had been missing since February was found dead in the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta, police announced Thursday.

Cunningham, who went home sick from work on February 12, had also apparently left behind his dog, wallet, vehicle and phone in his home, which alarmed his parents, who had traveled to Atlanta from Maryland to check on him, police said. He left work quickly, saying he felt ill, they said.

Cunningham, 35, was an epidemiologist at the Atlanta-based federal agency. Doctors who've examined his body say there's no evidence of trauma or foul play, and they believe the cause of death is drowning.

The manner of death has not been determined at this time, the medical examiner said. Officials said it was just east of the Atlanta Public Safety Annex.

The body was decomposing, and rescuers could not determine how long it had been in the water.

"It was very hard to access the location where Mr. Cunningham was found", explained Sgt. Cortez Stafford with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department.

Police say Cunningham's body has been found. A boat was used to access the body.

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"We may never be able to tell you", he said, noting there wasn't any surveillance footage in the area that would help piece together his final movements.

Cunningham, a Harvard graduate, was wearing favorite jogging suit, officials said. Barring new information, Maj. "None of those items are missing", O'Connor said.

With more than 16 years of experience in public health, he'd co-authored 28 publications on topics ranging from sleep deprivation to pulmonary disease, with a special focus on how health issues affect minorities.

11Alive reached out to Atlanta Police about the CDC's statements and the agency is standing behind the information they released. "I don't know if it's an instinct you have because it's your child, but it was not a normal conversation and I was not comfortable", Terrell Cunningham said about one of the last phone calls he had with his son.

Earlier that morning, at 5:21 a.m., Cunningham's mother had received a text message from him, she has said.

"Our information came directly from the CDC".

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