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Audrii Cunningham’s Cause of Death Revealed After 11-Year-Old’s Body Was Found in River

Audrii Cunningham, 11, was found tied to a rope in a Texas river on Feb. 20, authorities say

<p>Polk County Sheriff

Polk County Sheriff's Office

Audrii Cunningham

Audrii Cunningham, the 11-year-old found dead in a river five days after disappearing in Texas, died from blunt head trauma, authorities confirm with PEOPLE.

Her cause of death is "homicidal violence" and her manner of death has been ruled a homicide, Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences tells PEOPLE.

Officials at the institute did not comment when asked about other potential injuries. Audrii was reported missing on Feb. 15 when she did not show up for school in Livingston, Texas, authorities said at the time. 

Don Steven McDougal, 42, was charged with first-degree murder connection with her death, authorities have announced.

Related: Man Accused of Murdering Audrii Cunningham Was Family Friend Who Participated in Search for Her: Sheriff

McDougal was arrested on an unrelated assault charge the day after Audrii went missing but was quickly named a person of interest, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Audrii’s body was discovered on Feb. 20 and Polk County authorities charged McDougal with capital murder in connection to her death the following day, the sheriff's office confirmed to PEOPLE.

In a charging document reviewed by PEOPLE, authorities claim they found Audrii’s body tied to a “large rock” with a rope that was “consistent” with rope found in the suspect's car days earlier.

<p>Montgomery County Jail</p> Don Steven McDougal

Montgomery County Jail

Don Steven McDougal

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McDougal was the last person to be seen with Audrii, according to authorities, and the man had been entrusted with her care on previous occasions. He lived in a trailer on Audrii’s family’s property, CNN reported, citing authorities.

McDougal allegedly told authorities that he left the house with Audrii on the morning she disappeared but refused to give any further information, Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said, ABC 13 previously reported. 

McDougal has past convictions for enticement of a child, FOX 26, KHOU 11 and Click 2 Houston reported, citing court records.

It is unclear if McDougal has retained an attorney to speak on his behalf.

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