Body Found: Audrii Cunningham 11-year-old girl. What we know about what happened to her on her way to school
Body Found: Audrii Cunningham 11-year-old girl. What we know about what happened to her on her way to school

Body found of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham

The body of missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham was found in the Trinity River in Texas, authorities announced Tuesday the 20th of February.

Don Steven McDougal, 42, who was the lead suspect and already in custody on an unrelated matter, was charged with capital murder in connection with Audrii’s murder. McDougal is being held on no bond.

Sheriff Byron Lyons said, “Information from the suspect, cellphone data and social media imagery sent in by citizens of Polk County led them to the body off Highway 59 in Polk County.”

The local water authorities lowered the water level of the river to assist divers in their search for the body of Audrii Cunningham.

Her body was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Harris County, Texas. Officials were awaiting information on her cause of death.

Polk County District Attorney Shelly Sitton said they are in the process of preparing arrest warrents for Dom Steven McDougal, adding that they believe a capital murder charge will be appropriate.

“Based on all of the evidence that law enforcement hass collected, they are in the process of preparing the appropriate arrest warrants,” Sitton said. At the time he was still in custody for unrelated assault charges.

McDougal had joined in the search efforts for the missing girl, the sheriff told CNN earlier Tuesday.

Witnesses of the community have said that he was in the community and knocking on doors…asking have they seen Audrii.

McDougal apparently took to social media last week to state his innocence.

A comment of “I’m not guilty,” from a Facebook account appearing to belong to McDougal was added under a post on the Facebook page “True Crime Society” the day after Audrii Cunningham was reported missing.

New information has been found that McDougal lied about his whereabouts and activities, a sheriff’s deputy wrote in a criminal complaint.

Audrii’s body was found after using cell phone records, video analysis and information from the man last seen with her, the sheriff said.

The river’s flow was slowed to be able to see the remains.

A large rock was found tied around Audrii’s body. The court document states, “The rope used was consistent with rope that was observed in McDougal’s vehicle on a traffic stop two days prior.”

The condition of Audrii’s remains is not being released, the sheriff said. The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine her cause of death.

Authorities have not yet released a possible motive for the killing.

Audrii’s mother, Cassie Matthews, said her heart always broke for the parents of missing children who she has heard about on the news.

“There’s not words for it. There is not one feeling you feel. It’s a roller coaster. You are broken, you are mad, you are empty. And right now, I am empty,” Matthews said.  “She had so many opportunities ahead of her, and she deserves every right to be able to reach those opportunities.”

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About the Contributor
Kylee Williams, Journalist
Grade: Senior Hobbies: Working and hanging out with friends Favorite holiday: Christmas Favorite season: Fall & Spring Favorite article type: Criminal cases