A.J. Freund

‘Maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me’: A.J. Freund protected ‘mommy’ after alleged abuse. He was killed four months later. [Police]

Andrew “AJ” Freund, a 5-year-old Illinois boy found dead and buried in a shallow grave on Wednesday, died from numerous blunt force injuries to his head, according to the McHenry County Coroner’s Office.

McHenry County Interim Coroner David Devane, who released the boy’s official cause of death results on Thursday afternoon, noted that A.J. had “craniocerebral trauma as a consequence of multiple blunt force injuries.” According to Mayo Clinic, craniocerebral trauma means a traumatic brain injury, typically caused by violent blows to the head.

According to FOX 32, documents filed on Thursday at the McHenry County Circuit Court indicate that on April 15, 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr. and 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham forced their son “to remain in a cold shower for an extended period of time and/or struck A.F. on or about his body, knowing such acts would cause the death of A.F.”

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Cunningham has been charged with five counts of murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Freund Sr. has been charged with five counts of murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death. He’s also charged with two counts of concealment of homicidal death, as authorities said he was the one that buried the boy in a neighboring town.

 

Andrew Freund Sr and JoAnn Cunningham [Police Handout]

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.

Timeline of Alleged Neglect and Abuse

Meanwhile, on Friday, Illinois DCFS released a timeline detailing the agency’s involvement with A.J. and his family.

DCFS involvement with the family began in 2012, a year before A.J.’s birth, when the agency received hotline tips that Cunningham was abusing drugs and neglecting her oldest son; the oldest child is now 18 and lives with other family members. Like most of the reports, the allegations were “unfounded and expunged.”

Years of reports followed, and in 2018, officers noticed a bruise on A.J. while visiting the family’s Crystal Lake home during a welfare check.

After officers reported the bruising, a DCFS investigator told Cunningham to take A.J. for a medical checkup. Cunningham took him to a local emergency room, where a physician couldn’t determine how the bruise developed.

Cunningham claimed A.J. probably got the bruise from playing with a dog, but the ER doctor became concerned when A.J. mentioned being hit with a belt.

“Maybe someone hit me with a belt. Maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me.”
 

Read more below.

A.J. Freund DCFS Timeline by on Scribd

The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

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