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Search continues after 11-year-old girl disappears from Texas school bus stop

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(LIVINGSTON, Texas) — Authorities are searching for an 11-year-old Texas girl who vanished Thursday and police say a person of interest in the case has been taken into custody.

Audrii Cunningham was last seen on the morning of Feb. 15 near her father’s home in Livingston, Texas, at about 7 a.m., the time neighbors say they usually see the girl walking to her school bus stop, according to authorities. But Audrii didn’t board the school bus.

“She did not make it to school. That was the reason why the father, the family, became very concerned when she did not get off the bus,” Lt. Craig Cummings, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said. “We are looking at this as a criminal investigation.”

A statewide Amber Alert was issued on Feb. 15 and is currently still active.

Officials say they are looking into a person of interest, Audrii’s father’s roommate, Don Steven McDougal of Livingston, Texas. McDougal was arrested on an unrelated aggravated assault charge Friday and is in custody, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. He has an extensive criminal history, including enticing a minor in 2008.

Investigators are also searching for a 2003 blue Chevy Suburban in connection to Audrii’s disappearance and are offering a $7,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest in the case.

“That is McDougal’s vehicle. So anyone that saw that vehicle on Thursday or Friday, we’re asking that you call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office,” Cummings said.

Multiple law enforcement agencies and volunteers have teamed up to search for Audrii in the Livingston area and have since located her backpack near Lake Livingston Dam.

“There were other items that were found,” Cummings said. “But we’re not getting into what those items were. That’s all part of the investigative effort.”

Audrii is described as being 4-foot-1 with blond hair, blue eyes and weighing about 75 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white lettering, a camouflage backpack, black pants and black high-top tennis shoes.

Audrii’s mother, Cassie Matthews, is desperate to bring her daughter home and is searching for answers.

“There’s not words for it,” Matthews told Houston ABC station KTRK. “You’re broken, you’re mad, you’re lost, you’re empty. And right now, I’m empty.”

Officials have not said if Audrii was last seen with McDougal but they said there are multiple people of interest and additional information they are not yet releasing to the public.

Anyone with any information to report is being urged to call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810.

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