A.J. Freund: Mother of missing 5-year-old boy ‘continues to be uncooperative,’ canine unit picks up scent in parents’ car: Police

While the father of missing 5-year-old boy Andrew “A.J” Freund spoke with investigators for hours on Saturday, police confirmed that the boy’s mother continues to be uncooperative.

“As of today’s date, JoAnn Cunningham, the boy’s mother, continues to be uncooperative with police. On Saturday afternoon, Andrew Freund, the boy’s father, did speak with police detectives,” Crystal Lake Police Department said in a Monday news release.

A.J. hasn’t been seen since Wednesday night, according to his parents, who claimed they put him to bed at 9 p.m. and couldn’t find him the following morning. Police said they don’t believe the child was abducted, as a canine unit couldn’t place the child’s scent past the family’s home off of Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake.

How do you protect your children from predators? Join Nancy Grace and a team of world-class experts for the online course ‘Justice Nation: Crime Stops Here’.

CBS reports, however, that the canine unit also picked up the boy’s scent in the trunk of his parents’ car, although it’s unclear if the car was driven by Cunningham, Freund Sr., or both.

“We’re just extremely worried,” Freund said to reporters. “A.J., please come home. We love you very much.”

Cunningham’s lawyer spoke on her behalf on Friday, and announced that he advised her to remain silent. The lawyer said Cunningham was innocent and concerned about the safety of her son.

“Mrs. Cunningham doesn’t know what happened to A.J. and had nothing to do with the disappearance of A.J.,” attorney George Kililis said on Friday, shortly before police raided the Cunningham family home. “Mrs. Cunningham is worried sick; she’s devastated.”

While JoAnn Cunningham stood sobbing beside her lawyer, Killis asked the public for privacy and “compassion” for his client. When a local reporter asked Cunningham to speak, Killis said the woman would not be answering questions and instead, he urged the community to help find the little boy.

“At some point, we got the impression that she may be considered a suspect,” Kililis said. “I don’t know whether she is or not…..Once I realized that, as her attorney, I advised Mrs. Cunningham to remain silent.”

The lawyer’s statement happened amid the release of child neglect and abuse reports by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The reports indicated that the agency has known about the family for years.

A.J. was born in 2013 with opioids in his system according to DCFS documents, which also indicated accusations of Cunningham neglecting the boy. The agency said they’ve been in contact on and off with the family since A.J.’s birth, until 2018.

Shortly after his birth, the agency took A.J. into protective custody. He didn’t return to his family until 2015. In March 2018, DCF followed up on complaints about the boy’s father neglecting him. The accusations were unfounded.

In December 2018, A.J. was removed from the home after reports of his mother neglecting and abusing him. The boy was returned to the home shortly after when the accusations again were unfounded.

“The department’s involvement with Andrew Freund began with his birth in 2013 and continued on and off through the end of 2018. The last contact between DCFS child protection staff and Andrew’s family was in December of 2018 while investigating allegations of abuse and neglect,” the agency stated.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, A.J.’s his parents are apparently no longer speaking to each other.

Although the boy’s parents were both at a Saturday night vigil, Cunningham, who’s seven months pregnant, is in a relationship with another person. She was living in the family home with A.J.’s father, but the pair had already split up.

Cunningham left the home on Friday and is currently staying with a friend, while Freund Sr. was seen Saturday at the home, albeit briefly. They have another son together, a 3-year-old, who was taken into custody by the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) shortly after A.J. disappeared.

Cunningham reportedly plans to fight to get the youngest boy back.  A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at the McHenry County courthouse.

Meanwhile, Cunningham’s other defense attorney, Elizabeth Vonau, told Chicago Tribune that she’s questioning why DCFS decided to release the reports, given that it’s a “a violation of DCFS own policy.”

A.J is described as a white male who stands 3-feet-5-inches tall. He has blond hair and was last seen wearing a Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants.

Anyone with any information is urged to call the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620. Anonymous tips can be sent to the department by texting the word “CLPDTIP” with tip information to 847411 (tip411).

Join Nancy Grace for her new online video series designed to help you protect what you love most – your children.

[Feature Photo: A.J. Freund/Police Handout]