Texas authorities find body of 11-year-old who failed to make it to school bus stop

Audrii Cunningham was last seen last Thursday morning near her father's home in Livingston, Texas, at about 7 a.m. Livingston is about 70 miles northeast of Houston.

Officials in Texas on Tuesday found the body of an 11-year-old girl who disappeared last week as she was on the way to her school bus stop.

>> Read more trending news

Body of girl found, police say

Update 5:20 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Authorities have found the body of Audrii Cunningham, the 11-year-old Texas girl who went missing near the Trinity River, authorities said Tuesday.

The girl’s body was found in the Trinity River on Tuesday near U.S. 59 in Livingston, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said he was canceling an Amber alert in connection with her disappearance, according to The Associated Press.

Polk County District Attorney Shelly Sitton said that an arrest warrant is in progress for Don Steven McDougal, 42, KRIV-TV reported. He faces a capital murder charge, which would make him eligible for the death penalty.

McDougal is a friend of Audrii’s father who lives in a camper behind the house where the girl lived. He was already in custody on an unrelated charge of aggravated assault, according to the television station.

“My heart aches with this news,” Lyons said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “And I express with my deepest sympathies and condolences, to everyone who knew, who cared for, and loved Audrii.”

The girl’s body will be transported to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine her cause of death, KHOU-TV reported.

-- Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Original report: On Monday, police said a person of interest in the case was taken into custody, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Audrii Cunningham was last seen last Thursday morning near her father’s home in Livingston, Texas, at about 7 a.m. Livingston is about 70 miles northeast of Houston.

Audrii usually boards the school bus at about that time, police said, but on that day, she was not there. An Amber alert was issued Thursday afternoon.

“She did not make it to school. That was the reason why the father, the family, became very concerned when she did not get off the bus,” said Lt. Craig Cummings, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety. “We are looking at this as a criminal investigation.”

Officials said they are looking into a person of interest, Don Steven McDougal, a friend of Audrii’s father who lives in a camper behind the house where Audrii lives, ABC News reported.

McDougal was arrested on an unrelated aggravated assault charge Friday and is in custody, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said McDougal had taken Audrii on several occasions to the bus stop or taken her directly to school if she missed the bus, according to the Chronicle.

According to KHOU, McDougal admitted to leaving the house Thursday morning with Audrii but is not saying if she made it to the bus stop, Lyons said. The sheriff said there have been some occasions where McDougal has worked with investigators and took them to certain locations, but he hasn’t confessed to anything, the Chronicle reported.

Investigators have given McDougal opportunities to cooperate and are hopeful he will help with the case, Cummings said on Monday.

Investigators are also searching for McDougal’s 2003 blue Chevy Suburban.

“Anyone that saw that vehicle on Thursday or Friday, we’re asking that you call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office,” Cummings said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety reported that a small backpack that likely belonged to Audrii was found near the Lake Livingston Dam on Friday, the day after she went missing.

Audrii is a white female with blonde hair and blue eyes. She weighs 75 pounds and is about 4 foot 1 inch tall. She was last seen wearing black pants, a black hoodie with white lettering and black high-top tennis shoes.

Law enforcement officials announced an increased reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Audrii’s disappearance.

On AirX99.5 - Jacksonville's New Alternative Logo

mobile apps

Everything you love about x1065.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!