Last Thursday, 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund went missing from his home in Crystal Lake, Illinois. His parents, Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham, claimed that the last time they saw their son was bedtime the night before around 9:00 p.m. Both stated that they had nothing to do with the disappearance of AJ and just wanted him home. The state of Illinois embarked on a massive search for the 5-year-old using multiple police units, rescue canines, and drones. They quickly determined that it was unlikely the boy walked off on his own because the canines that were brought in lost his scent upon exiting the home. Thus, an abduction was also unlikely. Unfortunately, police found what they believe to be the child’s body on Wednesday morning, according to CNN.
Both AJ’s mother and father have been charged with his murder. The body was located in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic in Woodstock, Illinois. This area is only about 10 miles away from his family home. Both Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham face a hefty pile of charges including first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated domestic battery as well as failure to report a missing child or the death of a child.
Learning 5yo #AJFreund’s body has been found in rural Hennen Conservation Area in Woodstock. Earlier I saw evidence technicians take out plenty of items from the home where the child allegedly disappeared including a shovel with fresh dirt on it. @fox32news pic.twitter.com/Oa4M1Xflka
— Tia A. Ewing (@TIA_EWING) April 24, 2019
Prior to police locating AJ’s body, his father spoke out to local news outlets professing his innocence and begging his son to come home.
“AJ, please come home. We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”
Cunningham stood next to her lawyer before the press while he spoke for her.
Her lawyer stated that 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.”
In order to nab the parents in this case, law enforcement used forensic evidence gathered from their cell phone data. Both parents were also interviewed overnight. Neither parent has yet to issue a public statement regarding the charges they now face.
This wasn’t the first time the Freund family has been looked into by the law. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services have been involved with the family since AJ’s birth after opiates were found in his system. Between the years of 2013 and 2015 the little boy lived with another family outside of the home.
Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black issued a statement to the remaining members of the little boy’s family.
“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.”