The mother of a missing 5-year-old Illinois boy is no longer talking to police after her lawyer said police may consider her a suspect in the investigation.
Andrew Freund Jr., known as “A.J.,” was reported missing on April 18.
The lawyer for his mother, Joann Cunningham, said that she was cooperating with the police until he got the impression that she was being treated as a suspect.
“Ms. Cunningham cooperated with the police extensively yesterday, until, at some point, we got the impression that she may be considered a suspect,” Cunningham’s attorney George Kililis told reporters outside the family’s Crystal Lake home, reported NBC Chicago.
“I don’t know if she is [considered a suspect] or not and I don’t know how serious that consideration is or not.”
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has long history with family of missing Crystal Lake 5-year-old, agency confirms, as police raid the boy’s home https://t.co/uZvZ2Jsb5w pic.twitter.com/xQHtIiSqXb
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) April 20, 2019
Kililis, who said that he’s not representing A.J.’s father Andrew Freund Sr., said that the family’s house was in “pretty rough shape” after being searched.
“Ms. Cunningham doesn’t know what happened to A.J. and had nothing to do with the disappearance of A.J.,” he added. “Ms. Cunningham is worried sick, she’s devastated and we are asking for a little bit of privacy and understanding and compassion from you guys and the community. And we are asking for the community’s help in trying to find A.J.”
The announcement came after Crystal Lake police entered the house with a warrant on Friday and took boxes and other materials out, reported the Northwest Herald. In a press release, police said Friday morning that officers don’t think A.J. was abducted and are “focusing on the residence” in the investigation.
“The canine teams only picked up Andrew’s ‘scent’ within the residence indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” the department stated.
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) April 19, 2019
The focus on the residence came after a search covered approximately 373 acres by foot and approximately 497 acres by aerial drones. Sonar teams also utilized cameras to search along Crystal Lake.
“In reviewing all investigative information thus far, there is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place. At this point, the police department has no reason to believe there is a threat to the community. Information obtained currently has police focusing on the residence,” the department stated.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, meanwhile, took custody of A.J.’s younger brother.
The department has had contact with the family since A.J. was born in 2013 with opiates in his system, department spokesperson Jassen Strokosch told the Herald. Since then there have been neglect allegations against the mother.
At one point, A.J. was taken by the department before he turned 1 but was later returned to the family.
HAVE YOU SEEN HIM? The FBI is searching for a 5-year-old boy who has been missing from Crystal Lake since Wednesday. Please share! https://t.co/K9no5WvhdI
— FOX 29 (@FOX29philly) April 20, 2019
Police would not confirm or deny if the missing boy’s parents are considered suspects in the case, reported ABC 7.
Freund Sr., the boy’s father, was approached by detectives when he left the house for the first time Friday; the officers asked the father to come with them and he said, “I need to get a phone. Then I’m gonna come back,” according to the broadcaster.
He later spoke briefly with reporters.
“We’re just extremely worried. If anybody knows anything about where Andrew Jr. is please, please, contact the Crystal Lake Police Department. Let’s get him home.”
“A.J., please come home,” Freund added before he walked away from cameras. “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble, we’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”