Texas Suspect in Murder of Audrii Cunningham Helped Search for Child, Sheriff Says

don steven mcdougal

Mugshot/Facebook (Cassie Matthews) Don Steven McDougal and Audrii Cunningham.

Don Steven McDougal is the suspect accused in the murder of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham in Texas.

“My heart aches with this news,” Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said at a news conference. “I express with my deepest sympathies and condolences to everyone who knew, who cared for and loved Audrii. We will continue to process the evidence that has been gathered to ensure justice for Audrii.”

He announced that the girl’s body was located in the Trinity River along U.S. Highway 59. There had been an Amber Alert for the child. The child disappeared at a bus stop on Thursday, February 15, in Livingston, Texas.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Prosecutor Says Don Steven McDougal Will Likely Face Capital Murder Charges

don steven mcdougal

Facebook (Don Steven McDougal)Don Steven McDougal

District Attorney Shelly Sitton said in the press conference that McDougal will face capital murder charges.

He’s in jail on an unrelated felony charge, Sitton said, and an arrest warrant in the homicide is being developed.

Asked the cause of death, the sheriff said that the medical examiner is still working to determine that. However, Lyons said the evidence suggests murder.

According to CNN, McDougal was a family friend who was supposed to drop Cunningham off at the bus stop where she was last seen.

Cell Phone Evidence Led Authorities to the Body of Audrii Cunningham

audrii Cunningham

Amber AlertAudrii Cunningham.

Cell phone analysis led authorities to the river, as did information received from McDougal, according to Lyons. He said authorities don’t want to release information “on the condition of her body” at this point.

He said that videos sent by other people also helped authorities in the investigation, but he was not specific. The river was one of several places that McDougal said he had gone to, although he did not say he “took” the child there, Lyons said.

Lyons said police would have found Cunningham anyway through cell phone and video evidence they obtained.

According to CNN, “a bag resembling her bright red Hello Kitty backpack was later found dropped near a local dam.”

Don Steven McDougal Helped Search for Audrii Cunningham, Authorities Say

don steven mcdougal

MugshotDon Steven McDougal.

CNN reported that McDougal was a “friend of Audrii’s father” who lived in a trailer “on the family’s property” and was sometimes entrusted with taking the girl to the school bus.

McDougal helped search for the missing child, CNN reported.

“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,” Lyons said, according to CNN.

Cassie Matthews, Audrii’s mother, posted a photo of her daughter on Facebook. It includes the hashtag “#answersforAudrii.”

Her father, Joshua Cunningham, wrote on his Facebook page, “My daughter Audrii Cunningham is MISSING she did not make it to the bus this morning. Contact me and the police immediately with ANY INFORMATION.” McDougal, who went by the name Steven McDougal, is Facebook friends with Joshua Cunningham. According to DailyMail.com, he would sometimes babysit for Audrii when her dad was at work.

According to DailyMail.com, several photos of McDougal show him with swastika tattoos.

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