• Police: Body believed to be missing Illinois 5-year-old AJ Freund found, parents charged

    By: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Authorities in Illinois found a body Wednesday believed to be Andrew “AJ” Freund, a 5-year-old boy who was reported missing last week by family members.

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    Police said Freund’s parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew “Drew” Freund Sr., were being charged in the boy’s death.


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    Officials on Wednesday focused the search for Andrew on a field just south of Woodstock in unincorporated McHenry County, WBBM-TV reported.

    Update 3:15 p.m. EDT April 24: Police said they confronted Andrew’s parents Tuesday night with evidence gathered through a forensic analysis of cell phone data. Afterward, authorities said they both gave officers the information needed to find their son’s body.

    A body believed to be Andrew’s was found Wednesday morning, wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave in rural McHenry County.

    Crystal Lake police Chief Jim Black said it was not immediately clear what caused Andrew’s death. An autopsy is expected to be performed by the McHenry County Coroner’s Office.

    Authorities charged Andrew’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a child death.

    Andrew’s father, Andrew “Drew” Freund Sr., was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealment of homicidal death and one count of failure to report a child death.

    The pair were in custody Wednesday, Black said.

    “To AJ’s family, it is our hope that you may have some solace in knowing that AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice,” Black said Wednesday at a news conference. “We would also like to thank the community for their support and assistance during this difficult time.”

    Update 2 p.m. EDT April 24: Authorities are expected to update the public Wednesday afternoon at a news conference.

    Original report: Authorities are expected to provide more information at a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m. CDT.

    Earlier Wednesday, officials pulled several items from Andrew’s family’s home, including a large tub, paper bags, a shovel and a small mattress, The Chicago Tribune reported. A dog, identified by a neighbor as the family’s boxer Lucy, was also taken from the home, according to the newspaper.

    Crystal Lake police said they have interviewed Andrew’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, and his father, Andrew Freund Sr. However, police said Monday that Cunningham was no longer cooperating with investigators, WFLD reported.

    Officials previously said search crews were unable to find evidence Andrew left his home after his family reported him missing April 18.

    “The canine teams only picked up Andrew’s scent within the residence, indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” police officials said. 

    Family members told authorities they last saw Andrew around 9 p.m. April 17.

    “After waking up this morning and being unable to locate him in the home, Andrew’s parents contacted police and reported him missing,” Crystal Lake police said April 18 in a news release.

    CNN reported Andrew has not always lived with his parents and that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been part of the boy’s life since his birth. Jassen Strokosch, a spokesman for DCFS, told the news network Andrew became a ward of the state as a newborn following allegations of neglect by his mother.

    Andrew was in someone else’s care for about two years before being returned to his parents. CNN reported that DCFS was called twice in 2018 based on allegations of neglect and abuse, but both incidents were determined to be unfounded claims. 


     

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