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Police find body of missing 11-year-old Texas girl

February 21st, 2024

Police have found the body of an 11-year-old Texas girl who went missing last week and are poised to file murder charges against a family friend.

Police in Polk County said Audrii Cunningham’s body had been recovered by divers in a river north of Houston.

She vanished after failing to get on her school bus on 15 February.

A suspect in the case, 42-year-old Don Steven McDougal, who sometimes took Audrii to school, is already in custody on an unrelated assault charge.

Authorities are currently preparing an arrest warrant for Mr McDougal for capital murder in Ms Cunningham’s death, Polk County District Attorney Shelly Sitton said at a news conference on Tuesday.

According to police, Mr McDougal was a friend of Audrii’s family and lived in a mobile home on their property near Lake Livingston, about 80 miles (128km) north of Houston.

Audrii’s body was discovered by police on Tuesday in the nearby Trinity River, about 10 miles from her family home. A backpack believed to hers was traced in the area on Friday. She was last seen carrying a red Hello Kitty-style backpack.

Authorities in Polk County said that Audrii was supposed to catch a school bus at a stop in the area on 15 February, but was never picked up. She did not appear in school that day.

Mr McDougal – who sometimes took Audrii to the bus stop, or would take her to school if she missed the bus – was held in custody on 16 February on an unrelated aggravated assault charge.

He reportedly joined in the search efforts after Audrii went missing.

Sheriff Byron Lyons told CNN: “Some of the witnesses have even said that he was in the community and knocking on doors… asking have they seen her.”

He was first considered a person of interest in the case after a witness tied his vehicle, a dark blue 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, to Audrii’s disappearance.

According to the Associated Press news agency, Mr McDougal pleaded no contest to two felony counts of enticing a child stemming from a 2007 incident near Houston and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Police have not yet revealed how Ms Cunningham died. Her remains are being examined by the Harris County Medical Examiner.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo Canada Sports – Sports News, Scores, Rumours, Fantasy Games, and more »
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