11-year-old's death sent shockwaves, left trail of broken hearts in Livingston: 'Audrii is missed'

Alex Bozarjian Image
Thursday, February 22, 2024
Community shows up in force to honor Audrii Cunningham
Many gathered around Wednesday to remember 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, whose body was found six days after she went missing.

LIVINGSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Audrii Cunnigham's family and friends publicly began the grieving process. On Wednesday, they held a candlelight vigil for the 11-year-old who was missing for six days and was later found dead under the Trinity River Bridge.

The vigil wasn't about her tragic death or the man accused of killing her. It was about celebrating her short but impactful life. One thing that family and friends kept bringing up was her infectious smile.

She was described as a "standout" at Creekside Elementary. The Livingston ISD superintendent said the young girl's artwork is even hanging in the lobby.

"You know, hopefully, with all of our candles, it will be bright enough (that) hopefully she can see it," Cassie Matthews, Audrii's mother, said.

Matthews describes Audrii simply as perfection.

Her murder sent shock waves through the Livingston community and a trail of broken hearts.

"We will not have her walking through our doors anymore, but instead having her walk beside us in faith," Cassie Barker, a family friend, said.

There were dozens of faces in the crowd for Audrii, including some who didn't know her or the family personally.

"People from out of town that I met today at the bridge leaving balloons. It affected everybody. Audrii is missed. She had a smile - Oh, my god," Casey Evans, a family friend, said.

Audrii's smile radiated through the halls of Creekside Elementary, according to Livingston ISD Superintendent Brent Hawkins.

"I know she lit up the lives of teachers, and they were so close to her," Hawkins said.

Audrii spent 11 short years on this earth. But in time, she made the others around her feel special and loved.

"As a parent, we are all pretty biased that we think our kids are perfect. It is what it is, but I am truly blessed to have given birth to such an amazing little girl," Matthews said.

It is hard to imagine how scared little Audrii was in her final moments. Wednesday night, though, she has the community's arms wrapped tightly around her spirit. The hope is that wherever Audrii might be, she's watching.

"Maybe she'll see all the love and support that comes together at once," Matthews said.

For updates on this story, follow Alex Bozarjian on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.