News

Texas cops find BODY of girl, 11, in river six days after she vanished while walking to get school bus, as cops prepare to charge male family friend who lived in trailer behind her home with murder


Texas cops made the tragic announcement on Tuesday that they have found the body of Audrii Cunningham, an 11-year-old girl who vanished last week. 

Cunningham was last seen on Thursday after she disappeared on her way to school. She was allegedly dropped at a bus stop by a neighbor, who is now set to be charged with her murder. 

The six-day hunt has ended in tragedy as Cuningham’s body was found in the Trinity River, Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said. 

‘My heart aches with this news,’ Lyons said – adding a medical examiner is still working to establish a cause of death. 

Audrii Cunningham, 11, went missing after her father dropped her off at her bus stop on Thursday. Her body was found Tuesday

Audrii Cunningham, 11, went missing after her father dropped her off at her bus stop on Thursday. Her body was found Tuesday 

A chilling mugshot of Don Steven McDougal, 42, the last person to see the youngster alive, according to police

A chilling mugshot of Don Steven McDougal, 42, the last person to see the youngster alive, according to police  

Investigators said Tuesday that Audrii's body was found in the Trinity River in Polk County, Texas

Investigators said Tuesday that Audrii’s body was found in the Trinity River in Polk County, Texas 

Family friend of Audrii’s father, Don Steven McDougal, who lived in a camper out the back of the girl’s home, is set to be charged with her murder. 

He was allegedly seen walking her to school on the day of her disappearance at around 7am, and cops described him as the ‘last person to see her alive.’ 

He was previously named by police as a person of interest, and was seen in a menacing mugshot image on Friday after being charged with separate offenses.

McDougal was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and has a criminal history dating back to 2001 that includes convictions on two counts of enticement of a child, Fox26 reported. 

The Sheriff also revealed to CCN earlier on Tuesday that he was seen assisting in the search for Audrii and had been knocking on doors asking for information. 

While in custody on the unrelated assault charges, Polk County District Attorney Shelly Bush-Sitton said charges of capital murder are being prepared for McDougal. 

Sitton said: ‘At this time, we believe the appropriate arrest warrant is going to be for capital murder in the death of Audrii Cunningham. He is still in jail under an unrelated felony charge.’ 

When asked how Audrii was killed, Sitton said she ‘cannot speak to that.’  

He is currently being held at the Polk County Jail on $500,000 bond. His mugshot shows an array of body tattoos including a swastika and the words ‘Ain’t Scared’ across his chest. 

McDougal's dark blue 2003 Chevrolet Suburban has been a vehicle of interest in the case and, according to the authorities, is tied to the young girl's disappearance

McDougal’s dark blue 2003 Chevrolet Suburban has been a vehicle of interest in the case and, according to the authorities, is tied to the young girl’s disappearance

Audrii sparked a state-wide search after she vanished early Thursday morning in Livington, around an hour north of Houston, when she didn't turn up for school

Audrii sparked a state-wide search after she vanished early Thursday morning in Livington, around an hour north of Houston, when she didn’t turn up for school 

McDougal has a criminal history dating back to 2001 that includes convictions on two counts of enticement of a child

McDougal has a criminal history dating back to 2001 that includes convictions on two counts of enticement of a child

The girl's mother, Cassie Matthews, pleaded for help from the public during the six-day search for her daughter, and wept as she said the loss had her feeling 'empty'

The girl’s mother, Cassie Matthews, pleaded for help from the public during the six-day search for her daughter, and wept as she said the loss had her feeling ’empty’ 

Investigators quickly identified a dark blue 2003 Chevrolet Suburban as a ‘vehicle of interest’ tied to the girl’s disappearance, which cops said matched McDougal’s car. 

Then on Saturday, on the third day of the search, a small backpack likely belonging to Cunningham was found near the Lake Livingston Dam, People reported. 

Though police did not disclose further details about the backpack that was recovered, the day she disappeared she was carrying a bright red ‘Hello Kitty’ backpack. 

On Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons clarified that there was ‘enough in it to lead us to believe strongly that it is Audrii’s backpack.’ 

Lyons said McDougal had offered up a list of places he had been to after his arrest, but declined to give any information on Audrii. 

He added that cell phone data and video were also used to locate her remains in the river.  

The Sheriff also revealed Tuesday that they now understand McDougal joined in the manhunt for the missing girl.

He told CNN: ‘Some of the witnesses have even said that he was in the community and knocking on doors, asking have they seen her.

‘To me, it simply tells me is that he’s trying to give the appearances that he has no play or he’s not at fault in her disappearance and that (he’s) part of the concerned parties who were trying to locate her.’  

As he announced the discovery of Audrii's body on Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons (pictured) said his 'heart aches with this news'

As he announced the discovery of Audrii’s body on Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons (pictured) said his ‘heart aches with this news’

Investigators seen during the six-day manhunt for Audrii Cunningham

Investigators seen during the six-day manhunt for Audrii Cunningham 

An undated image of Don Steven McDougal, who is set to face capital murder charges over the alleged killing of the 11-year-old girl

An undated image of Don Steven McDougal, who is set to face capital murder charges over the alleged killing of the 11-year-old girl 

The missing girl’s mother, Cassie Matthews, said she believes McDougal was a friend of Audrii’s father. 

When the search was still ongoing, the girl’s mother pleaded for help from the public and said it was not like her daughter to just run off or disappear. 

‘We have no leads so we are grasping at any string, any signs, anything in general,’ she told KPRC at the time. 

‘There is not one feeling you feel,’ she explained. ‘You are broken, you are mad, you are empty and right now I am empty. 

‘I am not going to be the same unless my baby is returned to me and neither is her family, any of us, any of her friends, any of the people that she has been connected to in the community.’

The desperate search sparked fervent speculation online and drew in multiple law enforcement agencies, as a statewide Amber Alert was raised. 

Police began searching the wooded area near the young girl’s home as she is a lover of wildlife and nature, her family said. 

It was determined shortly into the search that the disappearance was not an accident, as Lieutenant Craig Cummings said at a press conference that ‘based on the evidence that we’ve got we understand foul play is a factor.’ 



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button