Body of missing 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy found in Woodstock, parents charged with murder
The body was wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in the rural Hennen Conservation Area of Woodstock, about seven miles northwest of the boy’s home
The body of five-year-old Crystal Lake boy Andrew "AJ" Freund, who went missing last Thursday, has been found near a private property near Woodstock, police officials have now confirmed. In a press conference, the police and the FBI confirmed the body was "buried in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic." The officials added that AJ's parents — Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham — have been charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder.
AJ's body was recovered on Wednesday morning in the rural Hennen Conservation Area of Woodstock, about seven miles northwest of the boy’s home, Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black said at a news conference. The cause of death is unknown at this time, and the investigation is ongoing, Black said.
Police and FBI investigators interviewed the parents "after information was obtained through a forensic analysis of cell phone data," Crystal Lake Police wrote in a statement. "Once presented with evidence obtained by investigators, both Joann and Andrew Sr. provided information that ultimately led to the recovery of the deceased subject," the statement read.
AJ was reported missing last Thursday when the boy's father made a 911 call and told police that AJ was last seen at bedtime — about 9 pm — last Wednesday. When they woke up on Thursday, they could not find him and reported it.
Before calling police, the father said he searched the neighborhood, a local gas station “where we sometimes take him to buy treats” and a nearby school, where he talked to the principal. He also said he searched “everywhere” inside the family home.
Evidence technicians were seen taking various items out of the boy's home on Wednesday and it included a mattress and a shovel. The boy's parents were also interviewed by Crystal Lake Police after the boy went missing.
After the interview, AJ's father told the website that he didn't know what had happened to his kid and that the past few days had been "hell". On Monday, investigators revealed that AJ's mother Cunningham was not being cooperative with the police.
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. 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 a missing child or child death.
George Kililis, the attorney for Cunningham, revealed in a statement that the mother had been with police officers on Thursday and spoke to them various times, but stopped answering their questions after her attorney said so.
"While law enforcement was conducting a missing child investigation, Ms. Cunningham was eager to participate," Kililis wrote. "When it became clear law enforcement was not conducting a missing child investigation, was not issuing an Amber Alert, had stopped searching for AJ, and considered her a suspect, we did advise her to stop all communications with law enforcement and she did so at our request."
Police dogs who were searching for AJ using his scent reportedly only detected it inside his house which indicated that the boy had not walked away from the house on foot.