Audrii Cunningham update: Body found in river as suspect Don Steven McDougal faces capital murder charge

Audrii Cunningham smiles in a family pic
The remains of Audrii Cunningham were discovered in a river following a six-day search. Pic credit: Polk County Sheriff’s Office

The Sheriff in Polk County, east Texas, announced last night that they had found the body of schoolgirl Audrii Cunningham, who has been the subject of a frantic search since last Thursday when she failed to come home in Livingston, Texas.

The body of 11-year-old Audrii was found in the Trinity River near the Livingston Reservoir Dam, downstream from where her Hello Kitty school backpack was discovered last week.

The officials recovered the body after they decreased the flow of water into the river, about 70 miles north of Houston. This made it easier for the police divers to spot the remains.

Sheriff Byron Lyons has not revealed how Audrii died, stating that the cause of death will be determined by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Lyons said the searchers had scoured phone records, surveillance footage, and information from suspect Don Steven McDougal in order to narrow down a search area.

Don Steven McDougal, a family friend who now faces capital murder charges in Audrii Cunningham death

McDougal was arrested over the weekend on an unrelated assault charge, but according to Polk County District Attorney Shelly Sitton, he will likely face a capital murder charge over the following days.

The suspect has been described as a friend of the family who lived in a trailer on the Cunningham’s property. He often gave Audrii a ride to school or the school bus stop.

Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel

McDougal is believed to have left the property at the same time Audrii started out for school last Thursday. The police say his dark blue 2003 Chevrolet Suburban was spotted in the area where Audrii vanished.

Sheriff Lyons stressed that McDougal has not confessed to anything and maintains his innocence. McDougal actually joined the search for Audrii last week and was knocking on doors asking people if they’d seen the girl, but Lyons suspects this was an attempt to appear innocent.

The Sheriff insisted, “We will continue to process the evidence that has been gathered to ensure the justice for Audrii.”

Who is Don Steven McDougal? Suspect has criminal record prior to Audrii Cunningham case

In 2007, McDougal was charged with attempted indecency with a child in Brazoria County, TX. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of enticing a child and was sentenced to two years.

He was also convicted on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2010 and 2019.

The investigation is ongoing, and the Sheriff’s Office has asked anyone with any tips or information to contact them at 936-327-STOP or

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x