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Published: Fri, April 06, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Missing CDC worker found dead two months later

Missing CDC worker found dead two months later

The circumstances of Cunningham's death remain unclear, but the police said they don't suspect foul play in the case, and they believe he drowned somehow.

Cunningham left work in the Atlanta office on February 12, saying that he was sick after learning he was passed over for promotion.

His family said he called out sick from work and was not seen or heard from since that day. The scientist was wearing his favorite running shoes, O'Connor added.

On Tuesday night, fishermen contacted authorities after discovering a body in the Chattahoochee River near Donald L. Hollowell, about 400 yards upstream from the bridge, and on the Atlanta side of the river.

In a news conference on February 27, Atlanta police said that Cunningham had been passed over for a promotion the week before he disappeared, and that he'd had a discussion about that on the morning he was last seen.

The local medical examiner has ruled the cause of Cunningham's death was drowning and there are now no signs of foul play, according to local police.

Cunningham had called his sister that morning and talked to his supervisor about a promotion he didn't receive, FOX5 Atlanta reported.

His parents said they later discovered his phone, wallet and vehicle keys as well as his dog - which had been left unattended - at his Atlanta home. O'Connor said the river wasn't that far from Cunningham's home.

When they arrived at his house a few days later, Cunningham's parents said, they knew something was wrong because his Tibetan spaniel was unattended.

The Centers for Disease Control's Tom Harkin Global Communications Center is pictured in Atlanta in this undated image.

"The most unusual factor in this case is that every single belonging that we are aware of was located in the residence", O'Connor said.

Fire officials had previously searched the river after Cunningham's disappearance but did not find anything. He earned a spot past year in the Atlanta Business Chronicle's 40 Under 40 list, a who's who of the city's young standouts. He held two degrees from Harvard, and was a graduate of Morehouse College.

At the CDC, Cunningham was a team leader and researched health differences related to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and geography.

On March 12, exactly one month after Cunningham went missing, the CDC's acting director, Anne Schuchat, released a statement saying the agency had not given up hope that he would be found alive.

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

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