Missing 5-year-old Illinois boy’s body found, parents charged with murder

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Both parents of 5-year-old Andrew “A.J.” Freund were charged with first degree murder Wednesday morning, after the child’s body was found in Woodstock, according to police.

At a press conference held Wednesday afternoon, Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black and FBI Special Agent Colin McGuire said they interviewed JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, Sr. after they recovered forensic evidence from cell phone records.

Once presented with the evidence, both JoAnn and Andrew, Sr. provided information that lead to the discovery of  A.J.’s body, buried in shallow grave, wrapped in plastic.

Both parents are charged in the boy’s murder and concealing the body.

Police say they are waiting on the McHenry County Coroner to determine the cause of death.

A.J.’s mother, Joann Cunningham, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery, and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

A.J.’s father, Andrew “Drew” Freund Sr. has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealment of a homicidal death, and one count of failure to report missing or child death.

Investigators were seen at the family’s house on Wednesday morning, carrying out several items including a dirt-caked shovel, two brown bags and a small mattress. The family dog was also removed by Animal Control officials.

Police say A.J., has been reported missing since Thursday. His parents say they last saw him Wednesday when he went to  bed at the family home in Crystal Lake.

Police say they don’t think the boy ever left the home on foot, with no signs of him after more than a day of canvassing.

State child welfare officials revealed that the family of the missing 5-year-old boy from Crystal Lake has been involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services off and on since he was born, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

DCFS confirmed that its investigators have been in repeated contact with Andrew’s family since he was born with opiates in his system in 2013.

Andrew was taken into DCFS custody and placed into a foster home less than a month after he was born. He was returned to his birth parents in June 2015, DCFS officials said.

Marc Smith, Acting Director for the Illinois DCFS, said in a statement Wednesday: “After a nearly week-long search for missing Andrew ‘A.J.’ Freund, law enforcement officials today confirmed his death.  This news is heartbreaking. Protecting vulnerable children who come to our attention is at the core of our mission at DCFS. All of us feel this loss. Our priority is the care and safety of Andrew’s younger sibling. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation. The Department is committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the entirety of our work with Andrew’s family to understand our shortcomings and to be fully transparent with the public on any steps we are taking to address the issues.”

Crystal Lake police said Friday that they had no indication Andrew “AJ” Freund was abducted. They say canine units only picked up the boy’s scent within the residence, which indicates Andrew didn’t leave on foot. Police say Andrew’s parents last saw him about 9 p.m. Wednesday and reported him missing Thursday when they said they woke up and couldn’t find him in the home.

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