Inmates Post ‘RIP AJ’ in Windows as Parents Led to Courthouse Facing Murder Charges

April 26, 2019 Updated: April 26, 2019

Inmates posted messages on the windows of the Illinois jail housing the parents accused of murdering their 5-year-old son A.J., as they were taken to the courthouse next door.

“R.I.P. A.J.” can be seen on handmade posters in the windows of at least three windows of the McHenry County Correctional Facility in pictures taken by NBC Chicago on April 25.

According to the news outlet, as many as five different signs could be seen posted on several different floors of the building, just before 8 a.m.

As many as five different signs could be seen posted in windows–possibly by inmates–on several floors of the building.

Posted by NBC Chicago on Thursday, April 25, 2019

Joann Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr. appeared separately that morning in the county courthouse, which is attached to the jail, for a bond hearing. They had been charged the day before with the murder of their son, Andrew “A.J.” Freund, and were both given a $5 million bond.

A week after he had gone missing, the 5-year-old’s body was found on April 24, wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave, according to authorities.

His parents are both charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery, and failure to report a missing child or death. Freund Sr. additionally faces the charge of concealment of a homicidal death.

suspects in murder of child
Police booking photos showing Andrew Freund Sr. and Joann Cunningham, who face multiple charges in the death of their 5-year-old son. (Crystal Lake Police Department)

Prosecutors on April 25 told the court that A.J. had been beaten to death, according to court documents made available by the Northwest Herald

According to the documents they “forced A.F. to remain in a cold shower for an extended period of time and or struck A.F. on or about his body, knowing said acts would cause the death of A.F., thereby causing the death.”

His body was found in a rural area of Woodstock, Crystal Lake police Chief James Black said at a news conference, according to The Associated Press. Woodstock is about 50 miles northwest of Chicago and a few miles from the family’s home in Crystal Lake.

According to CrimeOnline, A.J. was born with opioids in his system and taken into custody by the state shortly after his birth.

Joann Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr.
(McHenry County Correctional Bureau)

Illinois officials will investigate to see if the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) failed to act in the case of A.J. Freund, the 5-year-old boy who was found dead in Woodstock on April 24, according to the Chicago Sun-times.

DCFS staff returned A.J. to his parents in June 2015, officials said. And in 2018, DCFS caseworkers returned to the boy’s home to investigate neglect allegations, the newspaper reported.

CrimeOnline also reported that the state visited the home 17 times before the boy died.

“ [The boy] was not provided food on a regular basis, eating a meal on approximately four of the seven days of the week and a remainder of the time there was no food in the house,” a court document read. “The child was sent to school daily with no food and no money to purchase a lunch … there was no food in the residence and the child had only marshmallows and water to eat.”

In December 2018, officers went to the home and saw the house was filthy and in a state of disrepair, according to CrimeOnline. They also reportedly found hazards inside the house that could have injured A.J. and his brother.

“Upstairs in the room where the boys slept the window was open and the smell of feces was overwhelming,” the report said. ‘The boys were running around the residence playing and I noticed [redacted] was only wearing a pullup and had a large bruise on his right hip.”

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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