Missing CDC worker passed up for promotion before disappearance, police say

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher who disappeared more than two weeks ago had been passed over for a promotion at the center, police say.

Atlanta police held a news conference Tuesday to give an update on the disappearance of Timothy Cunningham, 35.

The case has captured national headlines. Channel 2's Wendy Halloran was at the news conference Tuesday where police explained what they believe happened in the days before Cunningham's disappearance.

“We were aware of some concerns at work that he had shared with us and there were some personal issues too,” his father, Terrell Cunningham, told Halloran.

Timothy Cunningham is an epidemiologist with the chronic disease department of the CDC.

Before his Feb. 12 disappearance, Cunningham previously learned he was being passed up for a promotion. He was about to find out why.

“He arrives at work and meets with his supervisor and the purpose of that meeting was to explain a promotion he did not receive to branch manager,” Maj. Michael O’Connor said.


Police said Cunningham tried to call his mother in Maryland, but she missed his call.

Cunningham was not seen on CDC surveillance cameras leaving the facility, nor was he captured on camera pulling his car into his garage.

Investigators confirmed that Cunningham had texted his neighbor, asking him to tell his wife to remove him from her contact list.

“He has such a history of being responsible and dependable that, that’s what puts us at such disbelief at this state,” Terrell Cunningham said.

Atlanta police say they checked Timothy Cunningham's personal credit cards to see if they were being used, as well as phone records.

“We’ve gotten with the CDC and we’ve gone through and made sure his government credit cards aren’t being used. We’ve looked at the browser history on his desktop computer to make sure there’s nothing suspicious on it. We’ve checked his swipe card. We know the last time he checked in with the CDC,” O’Connor said.

Addressing conspiracy theories that have circulated since his disappearance, investigators said Cunningham did not work in the infectious disease unit at the CDC.

"He had no access to classified material. He would not be the type of person that, you know, if you kidnapped him and held him, he could give you access to some horrific virus that could be a real problem for the rest of us," O’Connor said.

A $10,000 reward has been issued for information on Cunningham's whereabouts.

Anyone with information on the case should contact Atlanta police or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.