AJ Freund: parents charged in death of missing 5-year-old boy

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AJ Freund: parents charged in death of missing 5-year-old boy.

The parents of a missing 5-year-old boy from Crystal Lake were charged with his murder Wednesday after police say they provided information that led to the discovery of the boy’s body in a shallow grave in Woodstock.

Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black said at a press conference Wednesday that the parents of Andrew “AJ” Freund have each been charged with murder in the boy’s death.

Andrew’s body was found “buried in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic in a rural area of Woodstock,” Black said. The site, where dozens of law enforcement vehicles converged early Wednesday, is located about seven miles northwest of the boy’s home.

Both the boy’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, and his father, Andrew Freund Sr., have been charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, Black said. Cunningham has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

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Freund Sr. has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealment of a homicidal death and one count of failure to report a missing child or child death.

During interviews with both parents overnight conducted by Crystal Lake police and the FBI, Freund Sr. “provided information that ultimately led to what we believe is the recovery of the deceased subject, A.J.,” Black said.

The cause of death is unknown at this time, and the investigation is ongoing, Black said.

“To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer.”

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“This is not the outcome that we want to talk about when we come before you, but it is the unfortunate result in this investigation,” FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Sallet said Wednesday. “But please know that local, state and federal law enforcement stand side by side to ensure that we follow through, and that justice is served.”

Officers on Wednesday removed several items from the family’s home, including a shovel, mattress, paper bags and a plastic storage tub.

Some 40 people had been involved in the search for the boy, including members of the Illinois State Police, which used small aircraft and sonar teams in boats to scan bodies of water in the area.

Andrew’s parents reported him missing last week. The search had continued this week using planes, boats and crews on the ground.

Police on Tuesday released more than 60 pages of records detailing five years of calls to the family home. The reports show police were concerned about the family’s living conditions since at least September.

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Police also released a recording of the father’s call to 911, which which was made at 9:04 a.m. on April 18. On the call, Andrew Freund Sr., in a calm voice, can be heard telling a police dispatcher that he could not find his son that morning.

“We have a missing child,” Freund tells the dispatcher before trailing off.

Freund said he last saw Andrew about 9:30 p.m. the night before when he was going to bed. He said he had canvassed the neighborhood, including going to a nearby park and gas station where he would sometimes buy his son treats, before calling the report in.

“I have no idea where he would be,” Freund said.

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