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Cause of death determined for Audrii Cunningham, missing 11-year-old Texas girl

In World
February 23, 2024

Officials have determined the cause of death for the missing 11-year-old girl whose body was found in the Trinity River in Texas this week.

Audrii Cunningham died of “homicidal violence including blunt head trauma,” according to the Harris County medical examiner’s office. Her body was found Tuesday.

Don Steven McDougal, 42, who was already in custody on an unrelated matter, was charged with capital murder in connection with her death, Polk County booking records showed Wednesday. He is being held on no bond.

Sheriff Byron Lyons said information from the suspect, cellphone data and social media imagery sent in by citizens led them to find Cunningham’s body off Highway 59 in the county.

A local water authority lowered the water level of the river to assist divers in their search, the sheriff said.

11-year-old Texas girl still missing after four days, man in custody is 'person of interest' (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

11-year-old Texas girl still missing after four days, man in custody is ‘person of interest’ (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Cunningham had not been seen since she left her Polk County home on Feb. 15 at about 7 a.m. to catch a school bus, officials said.

She never got on that bus or made it to school that day, according to Polk County Sheriff’s deputies, and an Amber Alert was issued.

McDougal was called “one of the persons of interest” in the case when he was arrested Feb. 16 on suspicion of aggravated assault, in an unrelated incident, officials said.

McDougal lives in a trailer behind Cunningham’s home and is considered a family friend who’d occasionally take the girl to the bus stop or to school, officials said.

A small children’s backpack was found at the Lake Livingston Dam, not far from the Cunningham family home, authorities said. Trinity River feeds into the lake.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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