SEVERE WX : Red Flag Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Missing Illinois boy found dead, parents charged with murder

The body of a 5-year-old boy reported as missing last week was found wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave on Wednesday, and his parents have been charged with murder, police said.

Posted: Apr 24, 2019 2:08 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2019 2:15 PM

By Eric Levenson, CNN

(CNN) -- The body of a 5-year-old boy reported as missing last week was found wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave on Wednesday, and his parents have been charged with murder, police said.

Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black said police interviewed the parents of Andrew "AJ" Freund overnight after information was obtained through forensic analysis of their cell phone data.

The parents, Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham, then provided information that ultimately led to the recovery of AJ's body in Woodstock, Illinois, about 10 miles from their home in Crystal Lake, police said.

They both face charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated domestic battery and failure to report a missing or child death, Black said. Freund Sr. also faces charges of concealment of homicidal death, police said.

The cause of death is unknown at this time.

"To AJ's family: It is my hope that you may have some solace in knowing that AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice," Black said.

Cunningham's attorney has not responded to requests for comment. It is not clear whether Freund Sr. has retained legal counsel. They are expected in court Thursday for a bond hearing.

The search began last Thursday morning when his father calmly called police and reported him as missing.

"We have a missing child," he said, according to a 911 call released by the Crystal Lake Police Department on Tuesday. "Woke up this morning and he wasn't ... he wasn't."

Freund told a 911 dispatcher that he put AJ to bed in his pajamas last Wednesday night but could not find him in the morning before school.

"I had a doctor appointment this morning and when I got back from the doctor's appointment and I checked in on him to say good morning and he wasn't there," the father told the dispatcher Thursday.

He said he searched all around the house and canvassed the neighborhood but couldn't find him.

The resulting search has included 15 police agencies, drones, and rescue canine units. But police said it was likely that AJ had not walked away and was not abducted, and instead focused the investigation on the family home.

Sonar teams that searched Crystal Lake found nothing, and the canine teams "only picked up Andrew's 'scent' within the residence, indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot," the police said.

"(T)here is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place," the department said in a statement.

In addition, Crystal Lake Police earlier said Cunningham "continues to be uncooperative with police."

Child welfare investigations
Police on Tuesday released 63 pages of reports detailing several police calls to Andrew's home in recent years. In December, for instance, an officer described unlivable conditions in the home with "dog feces and urine" scattered there.

The officer during the visit also reported a suspicious bruise on one of the children, but a child welfare worker was unable to make a determination of abuse, the report said. Someone at the house said it may have been caused by a dog.

Months earlier, a local resident called police to check on the children because the home had been without power for weeks, according to the reports. An officer wrote the two children appeared "healthy and happy" and that child welfare authorities said the lack of electricity did not warrant their investigation.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has "been involved with the family" since AJ's birth, department spokesman Jassen Strokosch told CNN. AJ "was brought into care with us" soon after he was born, when "neglect was indicated on part of the mom," Strokosch said. From 2013 to 2015, the infant was in the care of someone else, he said.

The department was called in twice in 2018 on allegations of neglect in March and of abuse and neglect in December, Strokosch said. The allegations were determined to be unfounded in both instances, he said.

A younger sibling who had been in the home until this week is now living with another family, Strokosch said.

Parents spoke to the media
Andrew Freund Sr. late last week spoke to TV cameras saying they were extremely worried about their son.

"AJ, please come home," his father said. "We love you very much. You're not in any trouble. We're just worried to death. Please, please come home."

George Kililis, an attorney for Cunningham, told CNN affiliate WLS the boy's mother "doesn't know what happened to AJ, and had nothing to do with the disappearance of AJ. Ms. Cunningham is worried sick. She is devastated."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32820

Reported Deaths: 543
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah7184138
Marion468394
Washington451960
Umatilla297641
Clackamas240861
Malheur162723
Lane121017
Jackson11485
Deschutes84012
Yamhill75713
Jefferson5348
Polk53015
Linn52213
Morrow4996
Lincoln48213
Union4462
Benton3106
Wasco2923
Klamath2802
Hood River2510
Douglas2324
Clatsop2120
Josephine1982
Columbia1711
Coos1570
Baker942
Crook621
Tillamook530
Lake330
Curry310
Wallowa311
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 809890

Reported Deaths: 15606
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2678016514
Riverside581781189
San Bernardino54478925
Orange533151216
San Diego46610776
Kern31947369
Fresno28336382
Sacramento22269406
Alameda21189406
Santa Clara21153312
San Joaquin20194441
Contra Costa16572205
Stanislaus16452354
Tulare15970263
Ventura12729150
Imperial11835317
San Francisco11143101
Monterey988471
San Mateo9843150
Santa Barbara9061113
Merced8872142
Kings756980
Sonoma7412122
Marin6716118
Solano630963
Madera448165
Placer357745
San Luis Obispo354629
Butte282744
Yolo280355
Santa Cruz23589
Sutter170511
Napa168113
San Benito134511
Yuba11537
El Dorado11274
Mendocino93118
Shasta85617
Lassen7400
Glenn5783
Tehama5605
Lake54911
Nevada5347
Colusa5296
Humboldt5017
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18715
Mono1652
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 99° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 78°
Brookings
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Crater Lake
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 66°
Grants Pass
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 74°
Klamath Falls
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 66°
Critical fire danger today
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Possible housing solutions after wildfires

Image

Monday, September 28th Evening Weather

Image

Similarities in days had southern Oregonians on edge

Image

Monday, September 28 afternoon weather

Image

Monday, September 28 morning weather

Image

Sunday, September 27 evening weather

Image

Sunday, September 27 morning weather

Image

The initial spread of the Almeda Fire in real-time

Image

Saturday, September 26 evening weather

Image

Saturday, September 26 morning weather