Law enforcement has been stumped by the case of the missing epidemiologist.
The case of a missing government scientist has given way to a number of theories for what happened to him. While some are more plausible than others, there is one indisputable fact: Tim Cunningham, an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, went missing on Feb. 12 after he went home from work sick. It was the last time anyone saw him.
The Morehouse College graduate who went on to achieve two graduate degrees from Harvard University, including a doctorate, before returning to Atlanta for work was beloved by many, as evidenced by the massive campaign on social media launched by family, friends, colleagues and law enforcement. A crowd-sourced reward has ballooned to more than $23,000, well over double the GoFundMe campaign’s goal.
URGENT: (please retweet) Tim Cunningham, a public health service commander and epidemiologist (specialization in epidemic outbreaks) at the @CDCgov has been missing for 11 days. He left work sick, then disappeared, leaving his phone, wallet, car, keys, and dog behind. pic.twitter.com/VanD6XV9rh
— 𝕂𝕒𝕖𝕝𝕚 𝕁𝕒𝕖 🌴🌞 (@KaeliJae) February 24, 2018
Because of that, his disappearance has been all the more confounding. Cunningham was successful in his chosen profession, was in constant contact with his family and well-liked among friend and co-workers. So what happened to him?
He reportedly was angered after he was passed over for a promotion at the CDC, which lends credence to possibility of him being so distraught that he committed suicide. However, that would be “totally out of character” for him, according to one Twitter user who claimed to know Cunningham.
Sounds like the suicide angle..but I will say this..This was a well knit professional..bonded no hangups Christian loving family..Suicide over a promotion would be totally out of character, used to being under pressure, and thriving in it. Everything was Earned pic.twitter.com/738CGHIieq
— Y The Golden Cat (@SyS_Config) February 28, 2018
Before he went missing, he apparently was not acting like himself, including making a comment to his next door neighbor that was odd and startling. “He told my husband to tell his wife – me – to erase his cellphone number from my cellphone,” Viviana Tory told CBS News.
Cunningham’s parents, who traveled from Maryland only to find their son’s personal belongings in his home – including his cellphone, wallet, car keys and dog – were fearing the worst and suspected foul play was involved.
— Suzy (@la_SUZANITA) February 24, 2018
There is also the emerging theory about Cunningham’s role in allegedly determining that this years flu shot was deadly, contributing to Atlanta’s deadly flu epidemic.YourNewsWire wrote a story last Thursday saying Cunningham was the person who made that discovery and that he wanted to remain anonymous for his safety.
Does anyone think Dr. Tim Cunningham’s disappearance could be a kidnapping or even a national security issue, since he worked at the CDC? I hope the FBI is looking for him, too. Hoping he’s found soon for his family and Bo’s sake.
— SSimms777 (@Ssimms777) February 25, 2018
Another user on Twitter brought attention to the fact that Cunningham was making significant headway with his research on certain diseases that have mostly affected people of color, such as Ebola and zika, at the time of his disappearance. He was also the author of a 2017 study “connected to a 1996 ban by the NRA against the CDC examining gun violence as a crisis.” The implication, while admittedly far-fetched but certainly not implausible, was that someone may have wanted to stop his work making strides in areas that have to do with the wellness of Black and brown people.
Police launched an investigation after he was officially reported missing on Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day – but had still come up empty as of Wednesday afternoon.