Missing 11-year-old girl in Texas found dead

The searh for missing 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham ended Tuesday in Texas after her body was found near the Trinity River. A suspect now is in custody. Photo courtesy Texas EquuSearch/Facebook

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The body of a missing 11-year-old girl was found Tuesday in a Texas river, and a suspect is in custody, officials said.

Audrii Cunningham had been missing since February 15 after she was dropped off to catch her school bus in the morning and was reported missing later that day. An Amber Alert was issued.

Don Steven McDougal, 42, was arrested Friday on unrelated charges and was the last known person to see the girl alive, according to law enforcement officials. He has an "extensive criminal history," according to Fox 26 in Houston.

An autopsy is underway after the child was found near the Trinity River Bridge and U.S Highway 59 in Polk County.

Authorities say murder charges -- which carry the death penalty in Texas -- could be filed against McDougal, whom authorities said was a friend of Audii's father and someone who lived in an RV behind their Livingston, Texas, residence. Authorities say McDougal often interacted with the family.

Reports indicate McDougal was seen at a mechanic shop near the area where Audrii's body was later located and police said he had been acting suspicious there the day she went missing.

Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said McDougal -- who was indicted in 2007 in Brazoria County for attempted indecency with a child -- admitted to seeing Audrii the morning she was last seen but was not cooperative with information about what happened beyond that.

McDougal's original charges nearly two decades ago was reduced to "child enticement" in 2008 and did not require him to register as a sex offender.

Polk County District Attorney Shelly-Bush Sitton said McDougal likely will be charged with capital murder.