Law enforcement officials confirm body of missing Livingston child has been found

LIVINGSTON, Texas (KTRE) – At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, officials confirmed that the body of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham of Livingston has been found.

Audrii’s body was found in the Trinity River. The Trinity River Authority lowered areas of the river so that they could be searched, Sheriff Byron Lyons said.

Polk County DA Shelly Bush-Sitton said that based on evidence collected, arrest warrants are being issued for Don Steven McDougal, 42; he will be charged with capital murder for the death of Audrii. He is currently in the Polk County Jail on an unrelated charge of aggravated assault and has been the main person of interest since early in the search. She pledged that the DA’s office will stand beside law enforcement to do whatever it takes to get justice for Audrii.

Audrii Cunningham
Audrii Cunningham(Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Cell phone analysis, videos collected, and info received from McDougal led law enforcement to the location where she was found in the river, Lyons said. He credited the cooperation from those who sent information and video to law enforcement as a large part of being able to pinpoint her location, and to be able to charge McDougal when he is ultimately charged with this crime.

Lyons did not want to clarify which specific agency found Audrii’s body, but said that the river authority was the main factor that allowed searchers to locate her in the water. He said that numerous agencies were side-by-side in the search, which he called a joint operation.

He said that they are still gathering information, and declined to say whether she was held elsewhere after McDougall took her, when she was killed, or by what method. He said that an autopsy is being conducted to determine the exact cause of Audrii’s death.

Don Steven McDougal had been arrested Friday on the unrelated charge of aggravated assault.

Livingston ISD, where Audrii was a 5th grade student, released a statement following the announcement of her death. They called it a tragedy, said they are heartbroken, and offered counseling to anyone who needs it.

They also gave parents things to look for in their children as they process grief following the loss of their classmate. They said those expressions of grief can range from withdrawal to crying to anger. They encouraged adults to encourage discussion, and to listen to children and students as they talk through it. Parents can reach out to the district for help with counseling, Superintendent Brent Hawkins said.

Related reporting:

Sheriff says he has not given up hope of finding missing Livingston girl alive

Search continues for 11-year-old who went missing while going to school bus

Person of interest named in case of missing Livingston girl

Sheriff shuts down rumor that suspect confessed to taking Audrii Cunningham

Vehicle identified in search for Audrii Cunningham, child who is subject of AMBER Alert

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