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Suspect in Audrii Cunningham’s Death is Charged With Capital Murder



Don Steven McDougal, a family friend accused of the murder of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham in Livingston, Texas, now faces charges of capital murder, as per court documents filed in Polk County on Wednesday. McDougal, who was already in custody for an unrelated assault case, has been ordered to be held without bond. According to a criminal complaint, video footage and cell phone data place McDougal at three key locations, including near the Trinity River, where Audrii’s body was discovered on Tuesday.

Investigators allege that McDougal had agreed to escort the girl to a school bus stop on the morning of her disappearance, but she never arrived. The complaint asserts that there is evidence suggesting McDougal lied about his whereabouts and activities on the day of February 15, 2024.

When Audrii’s remains were found, a large rock was tied around her body, consistent with rope observed in McDougal’s vehicle during a prior traffic stop, as stated in the court document.

As of Wednesday’s court filings, no attorney is listed for McDougal. Audrii’s family initially believed McDougal was simply accompanying her to the bus stop, but she never made it onto the bus or to her classroom.

A bag resembling her backpack was later discovered near a local dam. Audrii’s body was located downstream from the reservoir, where McDougal claimed to have visited around the time of her disappearance, according to Sheriff Byron Lyons. Cell phone records, video analysis, and information provided by McDougal aided investigators in locating Audrii’s remains.

The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine Audrii’s cause of death, and the condition of her remains is not being disclosed. To facilitate the recovery of the body, water management authorities adjusted the flow of water from Lake Livingston reservoir. Sheriff Lyons expressed condolences to Audrii’s loved ones and pledged to pursue justice for her.

McDougal, a friend of Audrii’s father who lived on the family’s property, has been the primary person of interest in her disappearance, though he participated in search efforts and denied involvement on social media.

Lyons expressed skepticism about McDougal’s actions, noting that his participation in the search appeared disingenuous. Despite McDougal’s assertions of innocence online, authorities have pursued charges against him in connection with Audrii’s death.

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