During a police briefing on April 24, 2019, Crystal Lake Police Department and the FBI revealed that they had found a body they believe to be missing 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund.
When did AJ Freund go missing?
On the morning of April 18, 2019, AJ’s father — also named Andrew — reported his 5-year-old son missing from their home in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
In the now-released 911 call, Freund told the dispatcher that he last saw his son the night before around 9 p.m. when the young boy went to sleep. When Freund walked into the bedroom to check on him the following morning, AJ was gone.
“I had a doctor appointment this morning and when I got back from the doctor’s appointment and I checked in on him to say good morning and he wasn’t there,” he told dispatchers.
Freund searched areas he thought his son might have wandered to on his own like a nearby park and gas station before calling law enforcement.
Deputies from the Crystal Lake Police Department conducted a search of the home but were unable to confirm that an abduction had occurred.
The CLPD then partnered with other police departments, the FBI, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to continue to search for AJ; multiple foot searches have been organized as well as aerial searches with drones.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is familiar with this family.
Since AJ’s birth, the Crystal Lake Police Department has been called multiple times to the family’s home with reports of child neglect, drug use and abuse.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesperson Jassen Strokosch told CNN that AJ “was brought into care with us” after his birth due to neglect from his mother, JoAnn Cunningham.
Strokosch also shared that the boy had been “in care with someone else” from 2013 to 2015.
Crystal Lake Police Department released the records of all calls to the Freund/Cunningham residence over the past five years on Tuesday, April 23.
Prior to the briefing, investigators reported that Cunningham had been “uncooperative with police.”
When was the body found?
Six days after his parents reported him missing, the Northwest Herald reported that the young boy’s body had been found in a shallow grave 10 miles away from his home in Woodstock, Illinois. Police later confirmed the report in a briefing.
The cause of death is unknown at this time.
The child’s mother was also reported to be at the Crystal Lake Police Department ahead of the police briefing on Wednesday, April 24.
Investigators were also seen removing evidence from the home, including a mattress and a shovel.
Were any charges pressed?
Both Andrew Freund, Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham are being charged with the death and disappearance of their son. Freund was also charged with 2 counts of Concealment of Homicidal Death.
Law enforcement also shared that they will not be sharing any further details to maintain the integrity of the criminal prosecution.
“To AJ’s family, it is our hope that you may have some solace in knowing that AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice,” police said in the briefing. “We would also like to thank the community for their support and assistance during this difficult time.”
“To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer.”
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