One month after the disappearance of one of its employees, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement to correct reports that the worker had not been given a promotion.
The CDC said initial reports that Timothy Cunningham had failed to get a promotion shortly before his disappearance were incorrect, and that he had received a promotion in July. But Atlanta police said Monday that details about Cunningham’s job were provided by the CDC.
A statement emailed to the media from the CDC’s acting director Anne Schuchat read in part: “There has been news coverage that Commander Cunningham recently did not receive a promotion. As many of his colleagues in the USPHS have pointed out, this information is incorrect,” In fact, he received an early promotion/exceptional proficiency promotion to Commander effective July 1, 2017, in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS).”
Cunningham, 35, a Morehouse College and Harvard University graduate, is an epidemiologist, working for the chronic disease department of the CDC. He was last seen on Feb. 12 and the case has made national headlines.
The Atlanta Police Department said on Feb. 26 that Cunningham believed he had earned a promotion, but that he was passed over. The police department said Cunningham told his family and co-workers he was disappointed.
Cunningham’s mother, Tia-Juana Cunningham, told police her son was upset about a promotion and she was concerned about his behavior. She declined to discuss her son’s promotion with the AJC on Feb. 26, citing the ongoing police investigation.
Learning of the CDC’s statement, Sergeant John Chafee with the Atlanta Police Department issued a response on Monday: “We stand behind every statement the Atlanta Police Department made about Dr. Cunningham’s employment, as our information came directly from the CDC. Any further questions about Dr. Cunningham’s employment, or this statement issued by the CDC today, would need to be answered by the CDC.”
In a press conference about the disappearance, the police department’s Major Michael O’Connor said Cunningham called out sick for two days but returned to work on Monday, Feb. 12. It was then Cunningham learned why he’d been passed over for the new job, according to the police department.
Cunningham left work again that same day, telling his co-workers he didn’t feel well. That was also the last day anyone saw him or spoke with him, according to his family and police.
Two days later, his keys, wallet, cellphone, vehicle and his beloved dog, Bo, where all found in his northwest Atlanta home. There were no signs of foul play, but searches of the areas around his home and a $15,000 reward have turned up no solid leads.
On Monday, O’Connor said investigators are reviewing 30 tips in the case, but still have few clues to Cunningham’s whereabouts.
“There’s been no lead that’s made us hopeful that we’re about to find him,” he said.
The CDC again said it remains hopeful that Cunningham is safe.
“If Tim reads this message, we hope you come home soon,” the CDC said in its statement Monday. “If anyone reading this has information about the whereabouts of Commander Cunningham, please come forward.”
Information can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.crime stoppersatlanta.org.