Parents of Murdered Crystal Lake Boy AJ Freund Agree to Give Up Custody of Their Other Son

April 30, 2019 Updated: April 30, 2019

The Illinois parents charged with murder in the death of their 5-year-old son have agreed to let the state’s child welfare agency care for their younger son, according to the Northwest Herald.

JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr.’s younger son was taken into Illinois Department of Children and Family Services custody after Andrew “AJ” Freund’s April 18 disappearance.

AJ’s body was found last week, and Cunningham and Freund face multiple charges, including murder.

The Herald reports McHenry County prosecutors have filed a petition to cut Cunningham and Freund’s parental rights to the younger boy. While permanent revocation of parental rights makes its way through the court system, Cunningham and Freund Sr. have agreed for their 4-year-old son to remain in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Cunningham and Freund reported AJ missing April 18. His plastic-wrapped body was found Wednesday in a shallow grave.

Autopsy Reveals Cause of Death

An autopsy has revealed that AJ died of multiple blows to the head.

A coroner cited in criminal complaints filed on Thursday, April 25, at the McHenry County Circuit Court, stated that the boy died as a result of craniocerebral trauma caused by blunt force injuries to the head.

Other chilling details were heard in court, according to Fox5, including that prior to being beaten to death, the little boy was forced to take a long, cold shower.

Prosecutors cited by the news outlet said AJ’s parents forced their son “to remain in a cold shower for an extended period of time and/or struck A.F. on or about his body, knowing such acts would cause the death of A.F.”

AJ’s parents, Freund Sr., 60, and Cunningham, 36, appeared in McHenry County Court Thursday where, according to WGN-TV, they faced multiple charges including aggravated battery and first-degree murder.

Andrew "AJ" Freund
Andrew “AJ” Freund. (Crystal Lake Police Department via AP)

A bond of $5 million each has been set for the parents, according to the report.

Cunningham, who is seven months pregnant, shed tears as the judge listed the charges, WGN-TV reported.

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

Freund Sr. showed no emotion in court.

Both parents are due in felony court on May 10, according to The Herald.

‘No Longer Have to Suffer’

The boy’s body was found wrapped in plastic on April 24 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.

Black said investigators were led to the body after they interviewed the boy’s parents overnight and presented them with cellphone evidence.

In a message intended for the slain boy, the chief said, “We know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer.”

Luis Maldonado, a local man, described the area where the boy was discovered as being fairly isolated.

“It’s very quiet,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “If they found a body here, I don’t know how they found this place.”

JoAnn Cunningham, the mother of missing 5-year-old
JoAnn Cunningham, the mother of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund, stands with her attorney George Kililis outside the Freund home in Crystal Lake, Ill., on April 19, 2019. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP)

AJ had been reported missing by his parents about a week ago.

Police officials were seen taking items from the family home on April 23, including a shovel.

Other evidence investigators removed included a toddler mattress and a large plastic tub, according to WGN-TV.

A makeshift memorial
A makeshift memorial outside the Dole Avenue home of Andrew “AJ” Freund in Crystal Lake, Ill., on April 22, 2019. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)

Freund Sr. and Cunningham were interviewed by Crystal Lake Police after the child disappeared, according to reports.

His father said he didn’t know what happened to his son, Fox32 reported.

Investigators said that Cunningham had been “uncooperative with police” when they interviewed her.

Cunningham’s attorney, George Kililis, said she stopped answering police officers’ questions after her attorneys told her not to.

Andrew Freund Sr., the father of the missing 5-year-old
Andrew Freund Sr. walks near his home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake, Ill., on April 19, 2019. (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)

Welfare Checks

On April 23, the police released more than 60 pages of reports written by officers who responded to various calls about the house where AJ lived with his parents, AP reported.

AJ Freund
A bloodhound K-9 officer sniffs the ground in front of the home of Andrew “AJ” Freund in Crystal Lake, Ill., on April 18, 2019. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP)

One report described seeing the home littered with dog feces and urine, and a children’s bedroom where “the smell of feces was overwhelming.” Another report said the officer found the house to be “cluttered, dirty, and in disrepair,” and without electrical power.

The heavily redacted reports also indicate state child welfare workers were called after officers spotted a large bruise on one of the young boys living there, but that the children appeared to be “healthy and happy” and were not removed from the house.

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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