Man Charged With Capital Murder In Death of 11yo

The family friend arrested in connection to the disappearance and murder of an 11-year-old Texas girl was charged with capital murder on February 21, CNN reported.

The body of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham was found floating in the Trinity River on February 20, nearly a week after she was reported missing from her home in Livingston, Texas.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Don Steven McDougal, a family friend, who had agreed to take Audrii to the bus stop on the morning of February 15 but she never arrived.

According to the criminal complaint, McDougal lied to investigators about his whereabouts on the day Audrii went missing. Surveillance footage and McDougal’s cell phone data placed him at “three locations of interest,” including near the Trinity River, the complaint said.

Audrii had been weighed down by a large rock tied around her body with a rope that was consistent with the rope found in McDougal’s vehicle during a traffic stop two days earlier.

During the search, Audrii’s red Hello Kitty backpack was found not far from a nearby dam and reservoir. Her body was later discovered downstream from the reservoir in the Trinity River.

The reservoir was one of the several locations McDougal admitted that he had visited on the day of Audrii’s disappearance, according to Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons.

Sheriff Lyons told reporters that McDougal lived in a trailer on the Cunninghams’ property and was a friend of Audrii’s father. He said McDougal routinely took Audrii to the bus stop to catch the bus for school.

Throughout the search for Audrii, the Sheriff’s Office considered McDougal the main person of interest in her disappearance.

The sheriff told CNN that McDougal even joined the search for Audrii, knocking on doors and asking residents if they had seen the girl. However, the sheriff said investigators doubted McDougal’s sincerity.

A preliminary autopsy by the Harris County medical examiner’s office determined that Audrii died from “homicidal violence including blunt force trauma.”