For a week, authorities searched for Andrew “AJ” Freund. Now that the boy’s body has been found, his mother’s refusal to cooperate in the search has taken on a more sinister meaning.
As WLS News reports, the 5-year-old from Crystal Lake, Illinois, was reported missing last week. Police released the 911 call from AJ’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., in which he told the dispatcher that his son had last been seen on April 17 around 9:30 p.m. “when he went to bed.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Andrew claimed he had come home from a doctor’s appointment the next morning, went to check on his son, and discovered AJ was missing. The father also said he had already searched his home, neighborhood, and a nearby school.
PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2019CONTACT: Deputy Chief Tom Kotlowski 100 West Woodstock…
Local, state, and federal agencies all joined in the search for the missing child. Meanwhile, disturbing details began to surface about the boy’s home life.
The family had been under investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on multiple occasions, going back to when AJ was born with opiates in his system.
Local police released reports detailing 17 visits to the Freund home in the past five years. Many of those visits had to do with concern over the children’s welfare, drugs in the home, and unacceptable living condition. A neighbor told WLS:
“We’ve seen the kids been taken away and always shocked they have been returned.”
When AJ was reported missing, his younger brother was removed from the home. According to the Daily Herald, a hearing held earlier this week to determine if the boy would be returned to his mother was postponed. The brother remains in protective custody.
JUST RELEASED: the mugshots of Andrew Freund, Sr. & Joann Cunningham— both charged with 1st Degree Murder for the death…
Meanwhile, the search continued for AJ. CNN reported that authorities didn’t believe the boy had run away or been kidnapped. Moreover, while AJ’s father spoke to detectives about his son’s disappearance, police said that JoAnn Cunningham, the boy’s mother, was not as helpful.
In a statement to CNN, the Crystal Lake police said that several days into the search for AJ, Cunningham “continues to be uncooperative with police.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s attorneys claim she submitted to a body search from the police but that they advised her to stop communicating with authorities when she appeared to be a suspect.
The mom continued to deny knowledge of what happened to her son.
Police focused their attention on AJ’s home. On Wednesday, they announced they had found the boy’s body buried in a shallow grave and wrapped in plastic. The cause of death is still unknown.
In a statement to the media, police said forensic evidence from cellphone data was presented to AJ’s parents and helped them break the case. They added that after being presented with that evidence, the parents gave them information that allowed them to find AJ’s body.
Both Cunningham and Andrew Freund have been charged in AJ’s death. This includes multiple charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery, concealment of a homicidal death, and failure to report a child death.