Home » They remember Audrii Cunningham as a radiant and friendly girl; a family friend is accused of his murder

They remember Audrii Cunningham as a radiant and friendly girl; a family friend is accused of his murder

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They remember Audrii Cunningham as a radiant and friendly girl;  a family friend is accused of his murder

11-Year-Old Texas Girl Found Dead Near River After Disappearing On Her Way To School

Family and friends gathered to remember 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham at a vigil near the river where her body was found earlier in the week. Audrii’s aunt, Brenda Cedars, described her as a bright and friendly girl who had the ability to make anyone shine. The fifth-grade student disappeared after leaving her home in rural Livingston, Texas, with a family friend who had agreed to give her a ride to the school bus stop. The friend, Don Steven McDougal, was charged Wednesday with premeditated murder in her death.

During the vigil, Cassie Matthews, Audrii’s mother, expressed her grief and described her daughter as “perfection.” The crowd dressed in Audrii’s favorite color, purple, and held candles as they remembered the friendly and kind-hearted girl. Audrii’s classmates and friends are now grieving the loss of their beloved friend, with the Livingston School District Superintendent Brent Hawkins calling the incident “catastrophic.”

The suspect, McDougal, was a friend of Audrii’s father who lived on their family’s property. He had agreed to take Audrii to catch her bus but she was never seen at the bus stop. The bag similar to Audrii’s backpack was later found near a local dam. Her body was discovered in the Trinity River, and investigators believe McDougal lied about his whereabouts and activities on the day of Audrii’s disappearance. He has an extensive criminal history dating back to the early 2000s, including a conviction for enticement of a minor.

McDougal was charged with Audrii’s death on Wednesday and is being held without bail on the capital murder charge. Audrii’s cause of death is yet to be determined by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office. It is a tragic incident that has left an entire community in mourning, and the loss of Audrii will be deeply felt by those who knew her.

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— By Andy Rose, Raja Razek, Holly Yan, Rosa Flores, and Sara Weisfeldt

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