Tragic Discovery: 11-Year-Old Audrii Cunningham’s Body Found in Texas River, Arrest Made in Connection with Her Death

The authorities in Texas announced on Tuesday that the body of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, who had been missing, was discovered in the Trinity River.

Audrii Cunningham
Audrii Cunningham’s body was discovered in the Trinity River, Texas.

The tragic discovery of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham’s body in the Trinity River, Texas, was announced on Tuesday, marking a devastating turn in the search for the missing child. Don Steven McDougal, currently held in custody for an unrelated matter, is now facing capital murder charges in connection with Audrii’s death, as revealed by Polk County District Attorney Shelly Sitton during a news conference.

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The case against McDougal will be built upon a comprehensive array of evidence, incorporating details obtained from the suspect, analysis of cellphone data, and social media imagery contributed by concerned citizens. Sheriff Byron Lyons highlighted that a combination of these sources led law enforcement to the location of Audrii’s remains near Highway 59 in the county.

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To aid in the search efforts, the local water authority cooperated by lowering the water level of the Trinity River. The medical examiner is now tasked with determining the precise cause and manner of Audrii’s death.

Audrii’s disappearance began when she left her Polk County home on Thursday to catch a school bus, yet she never boarded it nor reached school that day, according to Polk County Sheriff’s deputies. An Amber Alert was promptly issued, providing details about the 4-foot-1 child with blonde hair and blue eyes, dressed in black pants, a black hoodie with white lettering, and black tennis shoes on the day she went missing.

Don Steven McDougal emerged as a person of interest in the case when he was apprehended on Friday for suspicion of aggravated assault in an unrelated incident. Living in a trailer behind Audrii’s home, McDougal was known as a family friend who occasionally assisted in taking the girl to the bus stop or school.

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Compounding the distressing situation, a small children’s backpack was discovered near the Lake Livingston Dam, not far from the Cunningham family residence. The Trinity River flows into the lake, providing a potential link in Audrii’s disappearance.

Amidst the desperate search efforts, a $10,000 reward had been offered for any information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the individual responsible for Audrii’s disappearance, underscoring the community’s commitment to finding justice in this heartbreaking case.

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