Crime

Body of missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham found in river

Her body has been sent to the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office to determine the cause of death, but initial evidence suggests she was murdered.

Body of missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham found in river
Polk County Sheriff's Office
SMS

Authorities have found the body of missing Audrii Cunningham in the Trinity River near Livingston, Texas.

Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons announced in a Tuesday press conference that the 11-year-old's body was found at the river near Highway 59, leading to the discontinuation of the Amber Alert. Her body has been sent to the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office to determine the cause of death, but initial evidence suggests she was murdered.

"My heart aches with this news, and I express my deepest sympathies and condolences to everyone who knew, who cared for, and loved Audrii," said Lyons. "The sheriff's office will continue to process the evidence that has been gathered to ensure justice for Audrii."

During that same presser, Polk County District Attorney Shelly Sitton stated that Don Steven McDougal, 42, who was detained over the weekend for an unrelated charge of aggravated assault and previously considered a "person of interest" in Cunningham's disappearance, will now be issued an arrest warrant for capital murder in the death of Cunningham. 

McDougal had a previous conviction for enticing a minor in Brazoria County, Texas, but the Polk County sheriff said Monday that he was not mandated to register as a sex offender. 

Cunningham was last seen near her home on Feb. 15 around 7 a.m. She was supposed to catch her school bus but never did, and she never arrived at school. On Feb. 16, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office reported finding a small backpack near the Lake Livingston Dam, which they believe belonged to the child. 

Search continues for missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham
Search continues for missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham
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Search continues for missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham

Officials are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for her disappearance.

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