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Authorities Investigate Male Babysitter’s Connection to Missing 11-Year-Old Audrii Cunningham

New details have emerged in the search for 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, as local reports indicate that the Texas man identified as a person of interest in her disappearance had been babysitting the young girl.

Don Steven McDougal, 42, was named as a person of interest by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) Southeast Region on Saturday, in connection with Audrii’s disappearance. McDougal was apprehended by Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Friday on unrelated charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Video footage obtained by FOX 26 shows McDougal in Livingston on February 16, just prior to his arrest.

According to Audrii’s mother, Cassie Matthews, McDougal had ties to Audrii’s father and would often babysit the girl while staying at her father’s residence.

Audrii vanished on the morning of February 15 from her home in the 100 block of Lakeside Drive in Polk County, Texas. Despite expectations of catching the school bus from her neighborhood stop, Audrii did not board the bus nor attend school that day, as confirmed by school officials, triggering immediate concerns.

A statewide Amber Alert was issued on February 17, amplifying efforts to locate the missing girl.

While McDougal has not been formally charged in Audrii’s disappearance, investigators are exploring the possibility of foul play, as reported by FOX 26. McDougal’s extensive criminal history, spanning back to the early 2000s, includes charges such as enticement of a child in Brazoria County in 2008, assault of a family member, and evading arrest in Liberty County, among numerous other offenses.

Authorities are actively searching for McDougal’s dark blue 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, believing it may be linked to Audrii’s disappearance. Additionally, a backpack believed to belong to Audrii was discovered near the Lake Livingston Dam on February 16.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office continues to appeal to the public for any information regarding Audrii Cunningham’s whereabouts. Described as a white female with blonde hair and blue eyes, weighing 75 pounds and standing approximately 4 feet 1 inch tall, Audrii was last seen wearing black pants, a black hoodie with white letters, black high-top shoes, and carrying a bright red “Hello Kitty” backpack.

“This investigation remains active and ongoing. If you have any information related to the disappearance of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office,” stated TDPS Southeast in a February 17 Facebook post.