Atlanta, GA — A family is turning to the public for help following the disappearance of Timothy Cunningham, 35, an epidemiologist at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who left work after complaining of feeling ill on February 12 and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
Cunningham, a graduate of of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was recently promoted to commander in the Public Health Service, and was responsible for responding to and supervising public health emergencies including the Ebola virus and the Zika virus. A statement from the CDC called Cunningham “a highly respected member of our CDC family.”
After failing to show up for work on February 13, his parents Terrell and Tia-Juana Cunningham were reportedly unable to get in contact with him and drove from their home in Maryland to Cunningham’s home in Atlanta on the morning of February 14, according to The New York Times. Upon their arrival, his parents found the house and the garage were locked and two windows were open, according to the Times.
After gaining entry to Cunningham’s home, his parents found his car, phone, wallet were located at the house; the two immediately contacted the police, ABC affiliate WSB in Atlanta reported.
“It’s not the type of news you want to hear,” Terrell Cunningham said. “Thirty-five years old, but always your child.”
“This is an appeal to the public,” he also said. “We’re seeking your help in bringing Tim back safe to us.”
Cunningham’s family said that he maintains a very close relationship with them and noted this is unusual behavior for him, as they said he would never leave without keeping in contact or making sure his dog was cared for.
“My first mind is that something has happened, especially considering the length of time he’s been gone” Timothy’s brother, Anterio Cunningham, told Fox 5. “Not having his phone, leaving his dog, Bo, alone, he just wouldn’t voluntarily check out like that. Tim is the consummate professional. He loves his job. He wouldn’t just cast it aside. He’s worked hard to get where he is.”
“We just hope he will just come home safely. None of this makes sense. He wouldn’t just evaporate like this and leave his dog alone and have our mother wondering and worrying like this. He wouldn’t,” Anterio Cunningham also said.
The New York Times reports that Cunningham’s sister, Tiara Cunningham, said her brother sounded “not like himself” in a phone call on the day he left work sick, while Timothy’s father said he felt uncomfortable after his last conversation with him as well, noting a “tone” that left him “concerned about Tim.”
The CDC said, “Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time.”
Fox 5 reported that the Cunningham family has joined with Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta and are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest and indictment in this case.
Atlanta Police said they have no specific evidence of foul play, but are looking into all possible leads. Anyone with information is advised to call 911 or the Atlanta Police Homicide/Adult Missing Persons Unit at (404) 546-4235.