TIMELINE: What we know about capital murder suspect in 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham’s death

LIVINGSTON, TexasEditor’s Note: Since this article was first published, investigators have discovered Audrii’s body in the Trinity River near Livingston. A capital murder charge has now been filed against Don Steven McDougal.

Court documents were released Wednesday afternoon, detailing the capital murder charge that Don Steven McDougal now faces after the disappearance and death of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham.

The documents include a narrative and a detective’s explanation why McDougal should be charged.

There are seven specific points illustrated in the court documents. Including:
  • “Investigators were able to determine through cell phone data, video footage and other forensic evidence McDougal lied about his whereabouts and activities on the day of February 15, 2024.”
  • “Upon recovery of the child victim’s body, law enforcement discovered a large rock tied to the child victim’s body. The rope used was consistent with rope that was observed in McDougal’s vehicle on a traffic stop two days prior.”
Magistrate Warning, Probable Cause documents in capital murder charge for Don Steven McDougal (click2houston.com)

Cunningham never got on her school bus the morning of Thursday, Feb. 15.

Over the weekend, investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety publicly named McDougal as a person of interest in the case. McDougal was arrested on Friday, Feb. 16.

Yesterday, Cunningham’s body was found in the Trinity River along 59 near Goodrich, Texas. Early Wednesday morning, McDougal was charged with capital murder.

Here’s a timeline of events between Cunningham’s disappearance and McDougal’s whereabouts before his arrest on the unrelated charges.


Cunningham did not get on her school bus.


A store clerk at the Exxon in Coldspring says she saw McDougal at her gas station. She remembers his face. She told KPRC 2 reporter Gage Goulding she reported it to police after the Amber Alert was issued.

“I can’t remember what he bought,” the clerk said. “It might have been some change for gas, or maybe a couple of beers. I didn’t know I was supposed to remember, and I do know he was here, because he’s so ugly. It’s a face you don’t forget.”

The clerk said soon as she saw McDougal’s face on social media on Friday, she called police. Police went to the store within 15 minutes to look at the surveillance video.

THURSDAY, FEB. 15 - 5:30 P.M.

DPS says at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Cunningham’s family reported her missing.


KPRC 2 Investigates has received a copy of the police radio transmissions made the night the family reported Cunningham missing.

‘Can I get an enroute to xxx drive. This is going to be for a missing person call. Caller states her granddaughter was dropped off at the bus stop about 7 a.m, this morning, and never made it on the bus and hasn’t been since... female is about 4′11″ blond hair, blue eyes, last seen wearing a dark colored jacket.’


Shortly after 7 p.m. police returned to the radio with the following conversation, ‘Missing juvenile, called in from the county. They want us to check that address to see if she’s there. It’s supposed to be the mom’s address. The mom does not have custody, of her, never had custody of her, and has made threats recently to kidnap her.’

The address of the second location was not disclosed on the radio transmission.


Shortly after 8 p.m. another radio transmission went out from the dispatch center. It was a request for police to check out a tattoo shop for the missing girl. ‘Off 190 for a missing juvenile, out of the county, juvenile details will be in the call card, that one tattoo shop in town. It’s gonna be Rockbottom Studio and Treasure... OPD [Onalaska) advise they just left the tattoo shop and the female hasn’t been seen there.’

In that same sequence of dispatch transmissions, an officer requested the name and phone number of the [school] bus driver.

THURSDAY, FEB. 15 - 9:38 P.M.

A statewide Amber Alert was issued from Audrii Cunningham from Livingston, TX.


A Facebook account linked to McDougal posted items for sale on the Marketplace. It was listed as “all must go.”

Items included an incomplete set of weights, (the 25 lbs. plate was missing), and a green paddle.

Facebook marketplace photos: items for sale connected to Don Steven McDougal's profile. (click2houston.com)
Facebook marketplace photos: items for sale connected to Don Steven McDougal's profile. (click2houston.com)

Also, parts to an HVAC system, and an Everlast punching bag.

Facebook marketplace advertisement. (click2houston.com)

FRIDAY, FEB. 16 - 3:00 A.M.

Early Friday morning, at 3:00 a.m. the account linked to McDougal messaged a KPRC 2 producer about the Facebook ad. There was no further correspondence.

Response from Facebook account linked to Don Steven McDougal. (click2houston.com)


A resident spotted McDougal outside some shops in downtown Livingston. He was seen standing in front of his blue SUV Suburban. Police approached McDougal and questioned him.

by: Patricia Jo. Screenshot of video of Don Steven McDougal outside some shops in downtown Livingston, Friday, 9 a.m. (click2houston.com)

FRIDAY, FEB. 16 - 6:30 P.M.

According to records with the Polk County jail, McDougal was arrested on unrelated charges.

Polk County Jail arrest report 42 year old Don Steven McDougal arrested 18:30 on 2/16/2024 (click2houston.com)

FRIDAY, FEB. 16 - 11:50 P.M.

According to records with the Polk County Jail, McDougal was booked into the jail at 11:50 p.m.

Polk County jail inmate roster: McDougal booked into jail at 11:50pm (click2houston.com)

During a news conference, Lt. Craig Cummings with the Texas Department of Public Safety said McDougal, 42, was arrested on an aggravated assault charge.

McDougal has a long criminal record with more than a dozen convictions, including attempted indecency with a child and enticing a child.

Authorities are asking anyone who might have seen the 2003 dark blue Chevrolet Suburban on Thursday or Friday to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies have the vehicle in their possession, but they need help identifying additional locations where it was traveling.

Cummings said the vehicle belongs to McDougal, and they want to hear from anyone who may have seen it.

Authorities have released of photo of a vehicle in connection to the disappearance of Cunningham, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. (Texas Department of Public Safety)

About the Authors

Award-winning broadcast journalist covering local, regional, national and international stories. Recognized in the industry for subject matter expertise including: Legal/Court Research, the Space Industry, Education, Environmental Issues, Underserved Populations and Data Visualization.

Gage Goulding is an award-winning TV news reporter and anchor. A native of Pittsburgh, PA, he comes to Texas from Fort Myers, FL, where he covered some of the areas most important stories, including Hurricane Ian.

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