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Breaking Story: Investigation is ongoing and fluid into disappearance of local child


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By Emily Banks Wooten
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“This investigation is very fluid. However, I can say we identified a backpack yesterday at the dam that is consistent with that belonging to the child. We are going through the contents and evaluating,” Lieutenant Craig Cummings, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said during a press conference held Saturday afternoon in front of the Polk County Judicial Center.

Eleven-year-old Audrii Cunningham of Livingston has been missing since 7 a.m. Thursday and an Amber Alert is in effect.

Joined by Polk County Criminal District Attorney Shelly Sitton and Lieutenant Craig Finegan of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Cummings said that countless investigators and analysts are assisting in multiple locations.

“Sheriff (Byron) Lyons was unable to be here this afternoon but I want to reiterate that he is actively engaged in marshaling the resources that are needed to bring Audrii home. He did ask me to thank all of the volunteers who have been so helpful, all the businesses that have been nothing but exceptional, the dive teams, all the investigators, the Rangers, the FBI, the FBI victim’s specialist who is working with the family, Texas EquuSearch,” Cummings said.

“Yesterday I announced that we had persons of interest. Today, we have one main person of interest that we are looking at and that is Don Steven McDougal, 42 of Livingston. He was arrested yesterday on an unrelated aggravated assault charge,” Cummings said, adding that McDougal remains in the Polk County Jail and that while his vehicle, a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, is also in custody, if anyone saw the vehicle Thursday or Friday to please call the sheriff’s office.

Cummings also announced that Polk County Crime Stoppers is offering a $7,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person responsible for Audrii’s disappearance.

“We are hopeful that we can bring Audrii home alive and that’s what we are absolutely working toward right now. Based on the evidence that we’ve got, we know that foul play is a factor as well,” Cummings said. “Investigative efforts are ongoing. We’re looking at this as a criminal investigation as well and have to protect the integrity of that.

“Our investigators have done a great job of doing what they do best, recovering facts that are leading them to conclusions. Everybody is committed. They realize that Audrii is loved by so many folks. It certainly resonates with the law enforcement community. Many of us have kids,” Cummings said.

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