Missing CDC worker Timothy Cunningham was found dead on April 3 after being missing for more than six weeks
More than 500 people attended the memorial service of an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose body was found in an Atlanta river.
Timothy Cunningham’s service was Saturday at Morehouse College chapel in in Atlanta, Georgia.
His parents, Terrell and Tia Cunningham, were among those in attendance. They are holding a private burial for their son at the Georgia National Cemetery on Monday.
Authorities say the 35-year-old drowned but his death remains under investigation.
His body was recovered by rescue workers in the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta on April 3 after he was missing for more than six weeks.
Fishermen spotted Cunningham’s body on the west bank of the river, stuck in some mud.
The chief medical examiner, Jan Gorniak, said Cunningham drowned. She is waiting on toxicology tests to publish her final report on his death, but says so far it appears that no foul play was involved in his death.
Cunningham had been missing since February 12, when he left work early, telling co-workers he was feeling ill.
Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday for the memorial service of Timothy Cunningham, a CDC employee who went missing in February after leaving the office because he felt sick
Cunningham, 35, was found in a river in Atlanta, Georgia, by fisherman on April 3
Cunningham is pictured above with his parents, Terrell and Tia-Juana Cunningham. They were both in attendance at his memorial service on Saturday
Gorniak said they are able to determine in an autopsy if a victim was suffering from any natural diseases, but so far it appears that drowning was the only cause of Cunningham’s death.
Cunningham, who was a jogger, was found wearing a running suit and had crystals in his pocket, which he liked to collect.
Fishermen first discovered Cunningham’s body and called authorities, fire-rescue department spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford said on Thursday.
Stafford, who noted that the body was found in an area authorities had searched in February without finding anything. The site where the body was found was not far from Cunningham’s house, in a spot which rescue crews had to use boats and special equipment to reach.
The decomposing body was positively identified using dental records, Gorniak said.
Fishermen spotted Cunningham’s body in the Chattahoochee River on April 3. Police are still investigating his death but say at the moment there is no signs of foul play
Cunningham was wearing his favorite running suit and had crystals in his pocket, which he liked to collect
Law enforcement officials say they will likely close the investigation into Cunningham’s death when the medical examiner’s report is finished.
‘If someone were to bring new information to us that was relevant, then we would obviously look at that – but absent those circumstances, this case will likely close fairly soon,’ Maj. Michael O’Connor of the Atlanta Police told reporters in a Thursday afternoon press conference.
‘We may never be able to tell you how he got into the river,’ he said.
Cunningham, 35, was an epidemiologist at the Atlanta-based federal agency. He left work early on February 12 and his family reported him missing four days later when they went to his home and found his belongings, vehicle and dog there.
When Cunningham first went missing, there were reports that he had recently been turned over for a promotion.
But the CDC issued a statement saying that wasn’t true and that Cunningham received an ‘exceptional proficiency promotion’ in July, and was promoted to the position of commander – an early promotion reflecting his excellence as an employee.
The medical examiner said there were no signs of foul play in the 35-year-old’s death. Above, Cunningham’s home, which is not far from the river where he was found
Cunningham was reported missing on February 16, when his family came to his home and found his belongings, car and dog inside
No one had heard from Cunningham since February 12, when he left work early, saying he felt sick. Above, Cunningham’s dog
Still, those who knew Cunningham said he was struggling.
Cunningham’s mother, Tia-Juana Cunningham, told the Today show in February that her son sent her a mysterious text message the morning he went missing.
At 5:21am, he sent her a text asking ‘are you awake?’
His father also said he was dealing with issues at work and in his personal life.
‘I will say that we, as a family, were aware of some personal issues that were going on with Tim. There was also some work issues that had occurred,’ Timothy’s dad, Terrell, said.
The day before his disappearance, he also called his sister who said he sounded different.
A neighbor told CBS that Cunningham had a strange interaction with her husband that day, in which he asked her husband to get her to erase his cellphone number from her phone.
Conspiracy theorists have been attracted to Cunningham’s case, hypothesizing that he was assassinated in some sort of cover up. But the CDC said Cunningham’s job didn’t involve access to classified materials and they don’t think he would be targeted for any reason.
Cunningham was a graduate from both Harvard and Morehouse University