Details of Audrii Cunningham’s murder released, suspect charged

Posted at 7:27 PM, February 21, 2024

The man accused of killing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham has been charged with capital murder.

Don Steven McDougal, 42, was formally charged on Wednesday morning for the “intentional and knowing death of a minor by unknown means,” as confirmed by Judge Jamie Richardson’s office in Livingston, Texas.

Audrii Cunningham stands in front of a rock face

The body of Audrii Cunningham, seen here in an undated photo, was found by divers on Feb. 20. (Polk County, TX Sheriff’s Office)

McDougal was a friend of Audrii’s family and lived in a camper behind her home. According to the affidavit obtained by Scripps News, McDougal also had access to the inside of the child’s home.

Cunningham disappeared on Feb.15, and upon investigation, the affidavit states that McDougal provided false information about his location on that day.

Her body was found Tuesday in the Trinity River near Highway 59. The affidavit states that upon recovery of the child’s body, law enforcement found a large rock tied to her. The rope used matched a rope found in McDougal’s car during a traffic stop two days earlier. It’s believed he murdered her Feb. 15.

McDougal has an extensive record of arrests, including one in 2008 for enticing a minor in Brazoria County, Texas, but the Polk County sheriff said Monday that he was not mandated to register as a sex offender. He was arrested over the weekend for an unrelated charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon but was considered a “person of interest” in Cunningham’s disappearance at the time.

This story was originally published by Scripps News, an E.W. Scripps Company.