Audrii Cunningham death: Don Steven McDougal charged with capital murder - Hindustan Times
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Audrii Cunningham death: Family friend Don Steven McDougal charged with capital murder after Texas girl's body found

BySumanti Sen
Feb 22, 2024 10:41 AM IST

“Video footage and cell phone data places McDougal at three locations of interest,” including along the Trinity River, a criminal complaint said

A family friend who was suspected of killing Texas girl Audrii Cunningham, 11,  is now charged with capital murder, according to court documents filed in Polk County. Don Steven McDougal has been ordered to be held without bond.

Don Steven McDougal was identified as a person of interest in Audrii Cunningham’s disappearance (Polk County Sheriff, Polk County Jail via AP)
Don Steven McDougal was identified as a person of interest in Audrii Cunningham’s disappearance (Polk County Sheriff, Polk County Jail via AP)

“Video footage and cell phone data places McDougal at three locations of interest,” including along the Trinity River, where the little girl’s body was found, a criminal complaint said, according to CNN.

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How the events unfolded

According to investigators, McDougal agreed to take Cunningham to a school bus stop on the morning she went missing. However, she never arrived. A sheriff’s deputy said in the complaint that there is evidence “McDougal lied about his whereabouts and activities on the day of February 15, 2024.”

McDougal was Cunningham’s father’s friend. He lived in a trailer behind the house, and would occasionally take Cunningham to school. 

The court documents said a large rock was tied around Cunninghan’s body when it was discovered. “The rope used was consistent with rope that was observed in McDougal’s vehicle on a traffic stop two days prior,” the complaint said.

Last week, McDougal was arrested on unrelated charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was reportedly given “several opportunities to cooperate" with their investigation into Cunningham’s disappearance. 

McDougal has faced previous charges in the past, from the early 2000s. He has been accused of crimes like enticing a child in Brazoria County in 2008, assaulting a family member and evading arrest in Liberty County, among several others.

On February 16, Polk County Sheriff’s Office issued an Amber alert for Cunningham. “Audrii was last seen near her residence, at approximately 7:00 AM, on February 15, 2024, in the 100 block of Lakeside Drive, in Polk County, Texas. Audrii should have caught the school bus at her neighborhood bus stop; however, school officials reported to the Sheriff’s Office that the school bus did not pick Audrii up, nor did she report to school,” they said in a press release on Facebook.

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