Family friend charged for killing 11-year-old in Texas

McDougal was seen at a mechanic shop near Highway 59 in Livingston when Audrii Cunningham went missing

The missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, who was found deceased in the Trinity River, Texas on February 20, 2024. — Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Court documents revealed Wednesday that the neighbour of the 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham has been charged with capital murder after her body was found in a Trinity River in Texas Tuesday, the US media reported.

Audrii Cunningham went missing on February 15 as she left home with her family friend Don Steven McDougal in Livingston who was living behind her house in a trailer.

McDougal was taken into custody as police commenced an investigation into the case. He has been under detention without bond since Friday.

The criminal report stated: “Video footage and cell phone data places McDougal at three locations of interest, including along the Trinity River.”

Authorities did not reveal the cause of her death yet.

The crime scene was declared around an area of US-59 and the Trinity River Bridge.

Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons stated Tuesday that McDougal admitted that he left the house with Audrii in the morning when she disappeared but he is not revealing what occurred after that.

“We believe there is enough evidence,” Lyons.

Her body was tied with a large rock, and the rope used was consistent with that observed in McDougal’s vehicle on a traffic stop two days prior.

McDougal was a friend of Audrii’s father who sometimes took her to catch her school bus, according to the sheriff.

ABC13 also revealed that McDougal was seen at a mechanic shop near Highway 59 in Livingston when Audrii went missing.

McDougal agreed to take investigators to several locations, after her disappearance including the Livingston Dam, where officials discovered what they believe to be the girl’s wet backpack, Lyons said.

The water levels were lowered to assist the divers in locating the body of the 11-year-old. Officials, however, did not reveal the condition of her body which was sent for medical examination.

An ABC13 report noted Tuesday that the suspect was indicted on an attempt of indecency with a child about 17 years ago in Brazoria County, which would have required him to register as a sex offender. However, he pleaded down to child enticement in 2008. The charge does not require sex offender registration.

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