Police records were released Tuesday by the Illinois Department of Family and Children Services, preceding the announcement that 5-year-old boy, Andrew “A.J.” Freund had been found deceased. The documents provide a more in-depth look at the boy’s living conditions prior to his death, as well as accusations of abuse and neglect.
A.J. disappeared from his Crystal Lake home last Wednesday. His parents, Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham, claimed they put him to bed the night before and by morning, he was gone. Both said they had no idea where the boy was and reportedly continued to deny knowledge of their son’s whereabouts until police presented evidence that made them change their tune.
Neglect and Abuse Accusations
According to court documents obtained by local station WGN 9, in December 2018, authorities were dispatched to the boy’s home and noted that the residence had a strong “smell of feces” in the boy’s bedroom, along with “dog feces and urine.” The officers also noted several windows in the home were either broken or open while two children played inside.
The officers also noticed the kitchen floor in poor condition, with portions of the subflooring “jagged or broken off.” The kitchen ceiling had water damage and a “brown substance” was covering the kitchen.
Two children were in the home, with one of them “running around in pull-ups.” The officer noticed a bruise and questioned the boy’s mother, who said it must have happened while playing with a dog. Police took photos of the bruise and sent them to DCFS, but the agency could not determine the exact cause.
Three months prior, in September, authorities arrived at the residence again for a welfare check after a tipster reported the family had no power in their house for several weeks. Cunningham wouldn’t allow officers to enter the home, according to court documents.
Cunningham had no explanation about the power being out and claimed she had been staying at other places regularly, including a Best Western hotel in Woodstock.
Police Calls to Andrew “AJ”… by on Scribd
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 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.
Police Find A.J’s Body
On Wednesday, A.J. was found deceased on rural land in Woodstock, Illinois, and officials say his parents are responsible for his death.
According to Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black, the parents of A.J., JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., have been charged with numerous felonies in connection with his death. When confronted with forensic analysis on the parents’ cellphones and other information, they both reportedly provided details that led to the little boy’s location.
The suspects are both behind bars. They’ve been been charged with:
- First-degree murder
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated domestic battery
- Concealment of homicidal death (Freund Sr.)
- Failure to report a missing child/death
A.J. was found wrapped in plastic and placed in a shallow grave. The cause of death is unknown at this time.
The discovery came exactly one week after Freund Sr. reported his son missing. The man called 911 and told the dispatcher that he couldn’t find A.J., and explained the last time he saw him was the previous night, in their home off of Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake.
Freund Sr. also told the dispatcher he had an early doctor’s appointment on the morning of April 18, but when he returned home between 8:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., his son was missing. The man said he thoroughly checked the home and the surrounding areas and couldn’t find A.J.
“I have no idea where he could be,” Freund said.
Authorities said from the beginning of the investigation that they didn’t believe the child was abducted, as a canine unit couldn’t place the child’s scent past the family’s home.
On Wednesday, investigators took numerous items from the family’s home, including a shovel, a large storage tub, a mattress, and paper bags.
The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
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/Handout]