Body of missing CDC employee found in Chattahoochee River

Body of missing CDC employee found in Chattahoochee River

Almost two months after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher mysteriously vanished after leaving CDC headquarters in Atlanta, he has been found dead, police said.

At Thursday's press conference, Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak said that the preliminary cause of death was drowning.

"He was an avid collector of these kinds of crystals or rocks or rare stones", O'Connor said. The scientist was wearing his favorite running shoes, O'Connor added.

There were no signs of foul play in the death of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist who likely drowned, officials said Thursday.

In a news conference on February 27, Atlanta police said Cunningham had been passed over for a promotion the week before he disappeared.

Cunningham's disappearance prompted a high-profile police search and a $10,000 reward for clues.

Cunningham also called his mother at 9:12 a.m. that day, but she did not answer, Atlanta police have said. In his home, they found his keys, phone, wallet containing his credit and debit cards and identification, and they even found his passport.

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Assuming no new information is brought to investigators, O'Connor said, the case will likely be closed "fairly soon".

"At this stage, we're waiting on some information from the medical examiner's office or if someone were to bring new information to us that was relevant, then we would obviously look at that", O'Connor said.

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. The 35-year-old left work early that day saying he wasn't feeling well, and wasn't seen again.

"In fact, he received an early promotion/exceptional proficiency promotion to Commander effective July 1, 2017, in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service", a March 12 statement from the agency said, in part.

By outward appearances, Cunningham seemed to have a successful career.

His CDC biography says he was a "team lead" with the Division of Population Health and had deployed for several public health emergencies "including Superstorm Sandy, Ebola, and Zika". Dr. Cunningham's parents later discovered their son's cellphone, wallet, keys, auto and dog unattended at his home on February 14. So was his beloved Tibetan spaniel, which concerned his family.

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