Grand jury indicts parents of 5-year-old AJ Freund on charges of first degree murder
A grand jury has formally indicted the parents of Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund, charging Andrew Freund Sr. and Joann Cunningham with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and endangering the life a child. Additional charges against the couple, including unlawful restraint, abuse of a corpse, obstructing justice and aggravated domestic battery have also been filed in the McHenry County courts, according to court records.
The grand jury's bill of indictment, which was filed on Thursday, sheds some new light on the alleged abuse leveled against the five-year-old boy prior to his death. According to the court orders, Freund and Cunningham are expected in court at 9 a.m. on Friday for a preliminary hearing.
According to previous reports, 36-year-old Cunningham and 60-year-old Freund Sr had allegedly made the child stand in cold showers and had beaten him, well aware that their actions could kill him, the prosecutors claimed. They had detained him by placing him in "time outs" for periods of multiple hours or longer on or between September 20, 2018, and April 17, 2018, and the details were even mentioned in the newly issued indictment.
The same indictment has additional battery charges against the couple which stems from an incident on March 4 where AJ was struck, causing bodily harm to the boy. According to Patch.com, the most serious charges filed in the indictment, three counts of first-degree murder, carry a potential life imprisonment sentence.
Reports further state that Cunningham and Freund face additional charges of aggravated battery, unlawful restraint and endangering the health of a child in connection with AJ's death, which allegedly occurred on or between April 15 and April 17. The couple is currently being held at the McHenry County Jail on a $5 million bond.
Freund has been further accused of allegedly burying AJ, who died of severe head trauma, in a shallow grave near Woodstock. The parents had claimed that AJ had vanished from his bed at their home in Crystal Lake, Illinois on April 18, this was three days after they buried the child. Both of them had issued desperate pleas for the safe return of their son while local law enforcement and the FBI conducted a thorough sweep lasting six days after which his body was found According to the most recent court documents, the duo has been charged with failure to report a missing child or child's death for not reporting AJ's death to law enforcement within 24 hours after he died.
They are also charged with concealment of a death for knowingly moving the body of a dead person "with the intent of concealing information regarding the place or manner of death," and with abuse of a corpse for removing or carrying AJ's body even though they were "not authorized by law to do so."
Meanwhile, obstructing justice charges were also filed related to allegations that Cunningham and Freund initially reported AJ missing, even though they knew he was dead, and for misleading the Crystal Lake Police Department as they searched for days for the 5-year-old boy.