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Body of Missing Texas Girl Found in River

Audrii Cunningham, 11, had been missing since last week
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2024 10:35 AM CST
Updated Feb 20, 2024 4:22 PM CST
Missing Girl Left Home With 'Person of Interest'
Audrii Cunningham.   (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

This story has been updated with new developments. Authorities delivered a tragic update Tuesday on the search for 11-year-old Texas girl Audrii Cunningham, who had been missing since she didn't show up for school on Thursday. Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said Audrii's body was found in the Trinity River on Tuesday, CNN reports. The sheriff said authorities are awaiting information from the medical examiner's office on the cause of death. Meanwhile, some new details have emerged about the man in custody who's described by police as the "main person of interest" in the case.

  • Don Steven McDougal told Polk County authorities that he left the Cunningham residence with Audrii the morning she disappeared, reports the Houston Chronicle. The 42-year-old is a friend of Audrii's father and had dropped her off at her bus stop multiple times and sometimes drove her to school, authorities say. He lives in a camper behind the family home, per KHOU.

  • McDougal hasn't said whether he dropped the girl off at her bus stop that morning. He also has led police to various "places of interest," says Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons, per the Chronicle. Earlier, police said they found Audrii's backpack near the Lake Livingston Dam, which is near her home.
  • McDougal has convictions for attempted indecency with a child and enticing a child with intent on his record, though he wasn't required to register as a sex offender, per the Chronicle. McDougal also has "multiple violent convictions," per FOX 26, which talks to a man who was assaulted by him. "I wish I would have shot him, to be honest with you," the man says.
(More Texas stories.)

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