A.J. Freund

A.J. Freund: Video emerges of mother screaming at little boy before his death, badly beaten for lying about ‘soiled underwear’ [Affidavit]

An affidavit filed in McHenry County court revealed heartbreaking details on how authorities cracked the case of 5-year-old Andrew “A.J.” Freund, a Crystal Lake, Illinois, boy reportedly killed by his own parents for urinating on himself.

ABC 7 reports that according to the newly-released affidavit, Crystal Lake police found a video of A.J. on his mother’s phone. JoAnn Cunningham, 36, was apparently seen on video scolding and screaming at the boy as he laid naked on a bare mattress, covered in bruises on his face and body.

Authorities said the video was taken in March, a month before they found the boy deceased and buried in a shallow grave in Woodstock, Illinois.

A.J.’s father, 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr., reportedly told investigators that during the video, the little boy was being punished for urinating in his bed, then lying about “soiled underwear.”

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“AJ is seen to (be) naked except for some small bandages around both wrists and circling his hips,” the affidavit read. “AJ is seen to be holding an ice pack to his face and when he removes it he is seen to have deep red bruising around his eyes, and yellowish-green bruising around his neck and upper chest. It did not appear from the video that AJ received professional medical attention.”

McHenry County sheriff’s Detective Edwin Maldonado stated that Freund Sr. told police they started putting A.J. in cold showers afterward, when Cunningham suggested giving the boy punishment without as many beatings. On the night before the boy died, on April 15, Freund Sr. forced the boy into an ice cold shower for 20 minutes before putting him to bed.

“JoAnn [wanted] to stop with the hard physical beatings and do some less violent form of punishment. Drew said cold showers was decided (as the alternative). Drew said on or about … 4/15/19, AJ had lied about soiled underwear and he was subjected to a cold shower. Drew said he helped AJ out of the shower after he’d been there approximately 20 minutes, and put AJ to bed ‘cold, wet, and naked.”

Andrew Freund
A.J. Freund [Handout]
The following morning, Cunningham found A.J. unresponsive and reportedly searched for “cpr” on Freund Sr.’s phone. By then, it was too late. Freund Sr. told police that his son had died.

“Freund said the next day he took AJ’s body to the basement and stored him in a tote. He said on the night of 4/17/19 he placed Andrew inside of several trash bags, placed the body in the trunk of his car, and drove him to an area in Woodstock. Drew said he dug a shallow grave for AJ, placed him in it, covered it with straw, and left.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, the affidavit also read that AJ’s 4-year-old brother told investigators that Cunningham explained to him that AJ was not at home because he “fell down the stairs and had a lot of owies.”

Police said the suspects’ home had a strong smell of bleach when they searched it. They found what appeared to be a grocery shopping list on Cunningham’s cellphone, which listed items including bleach, plastic gloves, air freshener, and duct tape. They also found a pair of Freund Sr.’s shoes with “dripping wet mud” on them.

Andrew Freund Sr and JoAnn Cunningham [Police Handout]
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 5-year-old A.J. was found dead and buried in a shallow grave on April 24. He 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, 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.

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.

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.

Additional A.J. Freund Coverage

URGENT: Little boy, 5, disappears from family home after ‘put to bed’ for the night, FBI joins in search

Police zero in on home of missing 5-year-old boy after K-9 unit picks up scent inside residence only

WATCH: Mom of missing 5-year-old boy refuses to speak, lawyers up & sobs while attorney says she ‘may be considered a suspect’

TOT-BOY’S BODY WRAPPED IN PLASTIC IN SHALLOW GRAVE AFTER PARENTS FIRST SAY HE ‘DISAPPEARED,’ THEN CLAM UP

‘Overwhelming smell of feces’: Docs report 5-year-old boy found deceased once lived in house of filth with careless parents

Ja’hir Gibbons, the other murdered boy allegedly failed by Illinois DCFS

MISSING: Police raid family home where 5-year-old A.J. Freund was last seen, as DCF releases disturbing report

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

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

LISTEN: Police release 911 call after dad reports 5-year-old son, A.J. Freund, missing

DEVELOPING: Missing boy, A.J Freund, found dead after mom stops cooperating with cops [Report]

‘Major Failures’: State investigates after DCFS was called to ‘cluttered, dirty’ home 17 times before 5-year-old boy A.J. Freund died

Breaking: Parents of 5-year-old boy A.J. Freund threw him in ice cold shower & beat him to death [Prosecutor]

‘Cops were essentially begging DCFS to take the child’: State to respond as outrage intensifies over death of 5-year-old 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]

A.J. Freund: DCFS caseworker & supervisor who monitored 5-year-old murdered boy’s home life have been suspended

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