Then, on Tuesday night, a badly decomposed body was found in the Chattahoochee River behind the Atlanta Public Safety Annex located along Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway near the city limits.
The remains of Timothy Cunningham were discovered Tuesday in the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta, police spokesman Carlos Campos said.
Cunningham, a CDC scientist and researcher responding to public health emergencies such as the Ebola and Zika viruses, vanished on February 12.
"We have seen an increase in the number of newly diagnosed cases of hepatitis C related to injection drug use in people under the age of 30 over the past several years and have been concerned about the potential for HIV infection following a similar course", Dr. Al DeMaria of the state Department of Health said in a statement.
"We were aware of some concerns at work that he had shared with us and there were some personal issues too", noted Atlanta Police Major Michael O'Connor.
The 35-year-old, who was last seen on February 12, did not have any signs of injuries or foul play to his body and the preliminary results of an autopsy determined that he likely drowned, Fulton County Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak said.
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His family said he called out sick from work and was not seen or heard from since that day. At the time of his disappearance, police were baffled by what they called an extremely unusual set of circumstances. During an April 5 press conference, Atlanta police could not explain why the CDC worker did not have any of his belongings with him when he died.
Police previously said there was no evidence of foul play, but that it couldn't be ruled out.
Before Cunningham's sudden disappearance, investigators said the epidemiologist had learned he was being passed up for a promotion, but the CDC later said that wasn't the case.
"He was an avid collector of these kinds of crystals or rocks or rare stones", O'Connor said. His work as a Public Health Service commander including responding to public health emergencies such as the Ebola virus and Zika virus.
When they arrived at his house a few days later, Cunningham's parents said, they knew something was wrong because his Tibetan spaniel was unattended.
Cunningham's father told The New York Times in February that he'd been anxious about his son recently because he didn't seem like his usual self in conversation.