Missing CDC Worker Was Passed Over For Promotion Before Disappearing, Police Say
ATLANTA — Police say a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher who’s been missing for two weeks was disappointed about being passed over for a promotion. CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports that Atlanta police Major Michael O’Connor said Tuesday that 35-year-old told co-workers he was expecting the promotion.
Cunningham is an epidemiologist at the Atlanta-based CDC.
“I think that it was pretty consistent that he was definitely upset,” O’Connor said. “He told several co-workers that he was and that he was expecting this promotion.”
Police said Cunningham reported to work Feb. 12 but told colleagues he didn’t feel well and left early.
“He tells the supervisor that he’s not feeling particularly well,” O’Connor said. “He had actually called in sick the two previous workdays.”
Police said Cunningham called his mother, who missed the call, and he didn’t leave a voicemail, WGCL-TV reports.
Cunningham’s next-door neighbor, Viviana Tory, said Cunningham said something odd to her husband the day he went missing, CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca reports.
“He told my husband to tell his wife – me – to erase his cellphone number from my cellphone,” Tory said.
Cunningham’s parents reported him missing on Feb. 16 after they went to his home and found his belongings and vehicle there.
O’Connor said the CDC was checking whether security camera footage shows Cunningham in his vehicle when it left the campus and police were making sure his government credit cards aren’t being used.
“We’ve looked at the browser history on his desktop computer at work to make sure there’s nothing suspicious on it,” O’Connor said. “We’ve checked his swipe card activity. We know the last time he clocked in or out of the CDC.”
O’Connor said there’s no evidence of foul play but that it can’t be ruled out. There’s afor information that leads to an arrest and indictment in this case.
O’Connor also addressed online theories about the disappearance.
“Dr. Cunningham worked in the chronic disease unit, which is not the infectious disease unit,” he said. “He had no access to classified material. He would not be the type of person that if you kidnapped him and held him, he could give you access to some horrific virus that could be a real problem for all the rest of us.”