Court Documents Reveal Disturbing Details: Audrii Cunningham Found Tied to Rock in Lake, Matching Rope Discovered in Murder Suspect’s Car

LIVINGSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 20: The Trinity River is seen near where law enforcement found the body of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Livingston, Texas. Divers have recovered the body Cunningham days after the girl went missing, and authorities are preparing to file a murder charge against a friend of her father who lived on her familys property, a sheriff said Tuesday afternoon.

The body of Audrii Cunningham was discovered in a lake, tied to a rock with a rope that matched one found in the car of a family friend who is accused of her murder.

Don Steven McDougal, a career criminal with Nazi tattoos, who resides in a trailer on her father’s property, has been accused of the murder of an 11-year-old. He was already in police custody for an unrelated assault in Livingston, Texas.

According to authorities, the girl’s body was found in Trinity River on Tuesday following an investigation that involved cell phone records, video analysis, and information provided by McDougal.

According to a criminal complaint, the rope found at the scene matched the one seen in McDougal’s vehicle during a recent traffic stop, as per CNN.

Audrii’s family alerted authorities when she did not come home from school on Thursday in Livingston. According to officials, the suspect had previously brought the girl to the bus stop or would give her a ride to school if she missed the bus.

Following her disappearance, investigators found out that she had not boarded the bus to school that morning. 

A Hello Kitty backpack that officials think belonged to the child was discovered on Friday near the dam on Lake Livingston, one of the state’s largest lakes.

McDougal had joined the search efforts and was going door to door, inquiring if anyone had seen Audrii. According to CNN, he asserted on social media that he had ‘done nothing wrong.’

McDougal, Linked to Audrii’s Disappearance

LIVINGSTON, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 20: Women embrace after a news conference where law enforcement officials announced that the body of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham was found in the Trinity River near her home in Livingston, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Livingston.


During the investigation into Audrii’s disappearance last week, McDougal was identified as a person of interest and was subsequently arrested on Friday for an unrelated assault charge. 

Prosecutors emphasized the presence of ‘substantial evidence’ in the case, pointing to the use of cell phone data and videos to pinpoint search locations.

Authorities mentioned that the Trinity River Authority decreased water levels on the river, resulting in the finding of her body.

According to court records from Brazoria County, located south of Houston, McDougal pleaded no contest to two felony counts of enticing a child related to a 2007 incident and received a two-year prison sentence. 

The sheriff mentioned that the girl’s body was transported to the Harris County medical examiner’s office in Houston for further investigation into the cause of death.

Audrii resided with her father, grandparents, and other family members, as per authorities. 

During the search, the mother asked the public for help, mentioning that it was out of character for her daughter to vanish without a trace.

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