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Divers find body in Texas river of Audrii Cunningham, 11, who had been missing since last week

This undated photo released by the Polk County Jail shows Steven McDougal of Livingston, Texas. McDougal has been named as one of the persons of interest involved in the disappearance of 11-year-old Audriii Cunningham. (Polk County Jail via AP)

LIVINGSTON, Texas (AP) — Divers have recovered the body of an 11-year-old girl from a Texas river days after she went missing last week and authorities are preparing to file a murder charge against a friend of the father who lived on her family’s property, a sheriff said Tuesday afternoon.

Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said that the the body of Audrii Cunningham was found by divers during a search in the Trinity River, in a rural area north of Houston.

"My heart aches for this news,” Lyons said.

Cunningham's family had reported the child missing on Thursday after she failed to return after school to her home in Livingston.

Polk County District Attorney Shelly Sitton said officials were in the process of preparing an arrest warrant for Don Steven McDougal, 42, on a recommended charge of capital murder. She said they do not yet know if they would seek the death penalty in the case.

She said McDougal remained in jail on Tuesday on an unrelated assault charge. Authorities have said McDougal is a friend of the girl’s father and lived in a camper on the family’s property near Lake Livingston.

The sheriff said that the girl's body has been taken to the medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death.

Texas Dept of Public Safety spokesman Craig Cummings said the girl lived with her father, grandparents and other family members. A backpack that authorities believe belonged to the child was found Friday near the dam on Lake Livingston, one of the state's largest lakes.

The Associated Press

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