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Body found in Atlanta river identified as CDC scientist who vanished in February

A body recovered this week from a river in Atlanta has been identified as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist who vanished in February, Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos said Thursday.

Timothy Cunningham

The remains of Timothy Cunningham, 35, were found Tuesday in the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta, Campos said.

Authorities have said Cunningham disappeared after leaving work early on Feb. 12, complaining of feeling ill. His worried parents drove down from Maryland, arriving on February 14 only to find his phone, keys, wallet, car and dog at his house.

A Harvard-educated doctor, Cunningham was a highly regarded epidemiologist at the CDC, having risen through the ranks to become a team leader in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He even earned a spot last year in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 list, a who’s-who of the city’s residents.

There were no signs of foul play in Cunningham’s death, said Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak.

The preliminary cause of death is drowning, Gorniak told reporters at a Thursday press conference, but the manner of death has not been determined. The investigation is ongoing.