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Audrii Cunningham's Mother Says She 'Failed' 11-Year-Old Murder Victim -- By Leaving Her In Father's Care

Audrii Cunningham's Mother Says She 'Failed' 11-Year-Old Murder Victim -- By Leaving Her In Father's Care

The mother of Audrii Cunningham feels like she “failed” her daughter.

As we’ve reported, the 11-year-old girl — who had been living with her father, Joshua Cunningham, in Livingston, Texas — was reported missing after she never made it to school on February 15. A massive search for Audrii began. And authorities immediately were led to a person of interest in the case, a man named Don Steven McDougal.

McDougal had been a friend of the young girl’s father. He lived in a trailer behind the Cunninghams and sometimes watched Audrii, including bringing her to her bus stop. Mind you, this guy had a past criminal record, including a charge of enticing a minor in 2008. Oh yeah, and a swastika tattoo. And the dad not only let him around his young daughter, he would leave him alone with her at times. What the f**k.

Related: Two Young Adults Charged With Murder In Kansas City Super Bowl Parade Shooting

On the day she disappeared, Don brought her to the bus stop — making him the last person to see her alive. Eventually, he was arrested on an unrelated charge. But between his statements, phone records, and surveillance footage, police were finally able to find Audrii’s dead body in the Trinity River. Absolutely heartbreaking. Charging documents revealed the child had been discovered tied to a large rock at the bottom of the river with a rope. That rope matched one seen in Don’s “vehicle on a traffic stop” days before. The 42-year-old has since been charged with capital murder.

Audrii’s family is devastated by everything that has happened, especially her mother. She completely regrets leaving her little one in the care of her father now. Before Audrii was found dead, Cassie Matthews took to Facebook to say in an emotional post that she “failed” her daughter. Per, the mom wrote:

“I’ll make this clear one time and one time only, I failed my daughter by being bullied into submission by her father’s family and being made to believe she was in a safe, loving, and normal home with her father.”

And clearly, Audrii had not been. Cassie went on to make it clear she did not lose custody of her kid due to failed drug tests — a rumor she accused Joshua of spreading. She insisted she has “nothing to hide” and slammed others for “spreading bulls**t” online amid this difficult time:

“That is my daughter and I never lost any rights to her so as her parent I’m going to involve myself in anything I please concerning my child! I’m tired of all the bulls**t and I’m tired of being silent, scared, and once again bullied into submission by people I don’t f**king know.”

We cannot imagine the pain and heartache Cassie must be experiencing after losing Audrii. Our hearts go out to her as she mourns.

If you have sincere cause to suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to

[Image via ABC 7 Chicago/YouTube, Polk County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook]

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Feb 21, 2024 18:02pm PDT