(Crystal Lake, IL) – His mother made a tearful plea for her little boy’s safe return. The father issued a heartfelt request for Andrew Freund or AJ, as family members called him, to come home as well. But through the tears and the pleas authorities weren’t exactly believing everything the parents said and it looks like their suspicions were correct.
Joanne Cunningham, 36, and 60-year old Andrew Freund Sr. told police that their 5-year old son mysteriously disappeared from their home after he went to bed. The father called 911 and said the last time he saw his son was around 9:30 the night before and was shocked to find him missing the next morning when he went into his room to see him.
But as law enforcement and the FBI carried out a 6-day search, clues of his whereabouts never extended beyond the house. They couldn’t pick up his scent past the property.
The family history, which included 17 visits from child protective services (DCFS) since 2013, also raised red flags. Additionally, the little boy reportedly spent the first year and a half of his life in foster care after he was born with opiates in his system.
The squalid conditions of the home also put authorities on alert. Notably, one officer reported dog feces and urine were scattered about.
AJ’s body was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in the Hennen Conservation Area in Woodstock about 10 miles from his home. Cunningham is facing 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.
Freund Sr. is facing 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.
Cunningham is currently 7 months pregnant. Her 3-year old was removed from the home last week.
UPDATE: A Coroner Report states the five-year old died from head trauma due to multiple blunt force injuries. Court documents also say his parents allegedly forced him to stay in a cold shower for hours at a time and may have struck him.