Andrew Freund

A.J. Freund: Parents of missing 5-year-old boy no longer talking to each other as police continue their focus on family

As authorities continue to search for missing 5-year-old Illinois boy, Andrew “A.J.” Freund, his parents are apparently no longer speaking to each other.

WGN 9 reports that although the boy’s parents were both at a Saturday night vigil, mother JoAnn Cunningham, who’s seven months pregnant, is in a relationship with another person. She was living in the family home off of Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake with A.J.’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., 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’s defense attorney said his client plans to fight to get the boy back.

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A.J. was reportedly last seen on Wednesday night after his parents put him to bed at around 9 p.m. They claimed when they woke up the following morning, the boy was gone. Since then, authorities have carried out a massive search, but haven’t had any luck finding him. Police said they didn’t think the little boy was abducted and that a canine unit could only trace his scent to the residence.

On Saturday, Crystal Lake police Chief Jim Black said the parents also stopped communicating with police, although Freund was reportedly spotted leaving his residence on the same day with plain clothes authorities in an unmarked police car.

“The fact that both parents have stopped cooperating with us certainly raises our suspicions,” Black said, according to Chicago Tribune.

A few days after A.J.’s disappearance, DCFS released reports on how the agency has dealt with the family since the boy was born in 2013. According to the reports, A.J. was born with opioids in his system. The report also indicated accusations of JoAnn Cunningham neglecting him. 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, DCFS took A.J. into protective custody. He didn’t return to his family until 2015. In March 2018, DCFS 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.

Meanwhile, one of Cunningham’s defense attorneys, 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).

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