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Audrii Cunningham's Family Defends Friendship With Terrifying Murder Suspect

Audrii Cunningham Murder: 11-Year-Old’s Family Speaks Out On Friendship With Terrifying Murder Suspect

Audrii Cunninham’s family is speaking out on their relationship with Don Steven McDougal in the wake of the little girl’s death.

As we’ve been following, the 11-year-old fifth grader was tragically found dead at the bottom of the Trinity River in Texas earlier this month. Don, her neighbor and a friend of her father’s who had been living on the Cunningham’s property, was allegedly the last person to see her on the day she never showed up at school. He quickly became investigators’ primary suspect, as he apparently would look after her sometimes… and when she was found in the river, her remains were tied to a heavy rock with a rope consistent with one identified by police in Don’s truck days prior during a traffic stop. He was subsequently arrested on unrelated charges, but has since been charged with capital murder in her case.

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The 42-year-old has yet to be convicted, but we know he has a previous charge for enticing a minor in 2007. You can read all the disheartening details about that here, as the victim spoke out after seeing his mugshot in Audrii’s case. He ended up serving two years in prison, but strangely enough, was never forced to register on the sex offender registry.

In a statement to FOX 26 over the weekend, Audrii’s family spoke out about the devastating situation:

“The Munsch and Cunningham families are devastated and grieving for what happened to our little ray of sunshine, Audrii.”

The described her as “charismatic, beautiful, talented, and kind,” before calling Don “a monster we thought was a friend.” They said:

“We are being attacked and criticized on social media platforms for showing compassion and mercy to this formerly incarcerated person, but our interactions with this person were a result of our faith, which teaches us to give our fellow man a second chance.”

We get that… But, like, did they see the guy?? He literally has a SWASTIKA TATTOO!

Don Steven McDougal Charged With Murder
(c) Polk County Sheriff’s Office

They added:

“Unfortunately, the system failed us due to a loophole in the sex offender registration system.”

They said they did look him up on it before allowing him to live on their property when he was looking to “start a new life,” but found no results:

“Had we been aware of what we know now, this man would never have set foot on our property, much less been a part of our little girl’s life.”

So, so terrible. We hope to see justice served soon.

[Images via Polk County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook]

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Feb 26, 2024 15:57pm PDT