U.S.

Missing CDC Employee Timothy Cunningham: Everything We Know So Far

A rising official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention left work early on February 12 feeling sick—and no one has heard from him since. 

A nationwide search is still underway for Timothy Cunningham, a researcher and health expert for the agency. He was reported missing on February 14, and there is a $10,000 reward for anyone with information about his case. Foul play is not suspected, police said.



Here's what we know so far about Cunningham and his disappearance:

 

About Cunningham:

  • Cunningham is a 35-year-old, Harvard University-educated epidemiologist—meaning he investigates patterns and causes of human disease and injury. He holds a master's degree and a doctor of science degree from the university's school of public health, and is a Morehouse College alumnus.
  • He lives in Atlanta’s Bolton neighborhood. He's about 6 feet tall and weighs about 230 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. 
  • Cunningham's online CDC bio lists him as a team lead of the State Chronic Disease Epidemiology Assignee Program in the agency's Division of Population Health. He's been working at the CDC's Chamblee campus in Atlanta. 
  • Cunningham has conducted research on health differences related to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender and geography. He's been deployed for numerous public-health emergencies, such as Superstorm Sandy, Ebola and Zika.
  • The agency described him in a statement as "a highly respected member of our CDC family."
  • Cunningham in July was also promoted to commander in the United States Public Health Service, family members told The New York Times.
  • Cunningham earned the Outstanding Atlanta award in 2014—along with nine others—in recognition of his “service, leadership and achievements of Atlanta young professionals."
  • He was named on Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 under 40 list in 2017 as well, according to various reports. “Love what you do,” he told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “Do not quit. Keep going. During the bad, pick yourself up and learn from it." 
  • Cunningham’s friends and family describe him as "opinionated, positive and happy — and they noted his reliability," NBC News reported. "He has this pristine service record and background, and then he’s also the guy you can call to help you move furniture or get together with you at a restaurant at the end of a long day,” David Calloway, a college friend, told NBC News.

Cunningham's disappearance:

  • Cunningham's sister, Tiara, told The Times her brother sounded "not like himself" the day he left work early. His father also recalled "some exchanges via phone as well as text that alerted me to be concerned about our son," NBC News reported.
  • Tiara last spoke to Cunningham at about 7 a.m. that day. They were close and spoke to each other on a near daily basis, according to reports. They'd ended that morning's conversation with, “Love you. I’ll talk to you later,” she told The Times.
  • After Cunningham didn't respond to texts or calls, his parents asked extended family members to check on his home. Those members observed that it seemed empty—the house and the garage were locked, and there were two open windows.
  • Cunningham's parents, concerned, drove overnight from their Maryland home to Atlanta and arrived on February 14. They entered using a spare key and found his phone and wallet, various forms of identification—including driver’s license and passport—as well as his SUV in the garage. His dog, Mr. Bojangles, was there unattended, which his family said would never happen.
  • "My first mind is that something has happened especially considering the length of time he's been gone. Not having his phone, leaving his dog Bo alone, he just wouldn't voluntarily check out like that," his brother, Anterio Cunningham, told Fox5
  • “I feel like I’m in a horrible Black Mirror episode,” Tiara told The Times, alluding to a TV series that's drawn comparisons to the Twilight Zone.
  • Cunningham was officially reported missing on February 14, according to a social media post from the city's police department.

  • Joe Carlos, a close college friend of Cunningham's, told NBC News the two had planned only days beforehand to attend a gala together to celebrate the founding of Morehouse. “Our last communication the week prior was about hanging out before and going down to the VIP reception and enjoying ourselves,” he said.
  • Cunningham's family partnered with Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta to offer a $10,000 reward for information in Cunningham's case. Friends and family members have raised more than $20,000 so far. 
  • Police are continuing to search for Cunningham and have enlisted the help of friends, family and the Morehouse alumni network, which has utilized social media to spread the word nationwide. The search effort includes small and large groups that canvas and distribute flyers in the local area.
  • Family and friends have scoured areas such as parks, hospitals and medical facilities. 

Anyone with information is urged to call 911 or the Atlanta Police Homicide/Adult Missing Persons Unit at 404-546-4235.

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