Parents Charged With Murder After Reporting 5-Year-Old Son Missing

The family services department has been involved with A.J.'s family since he was born in 2013, when doctors found opiates in his system.

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Parents Charged With Murder After Reporting 5-Year-Old Son Missing

Andrew Freund's have been taken into custody and await a bond hearing.


Andrew Freund's father told authorities he had looked all over for his 5-year-old son - their house, the neighborhood, a local park and gas station - "everywhere," he said.

That was on Thursday, when Freund called 911 to report the boy, known as A.J., missing. Less than a week later, police said they found A.J.'s body, wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave miles from the family's Crystal Lake, Illinois, home.

Now, police have charged Freund and A.J.'s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, with five counts of first-degree murder and a host of other crimes in the death of their son. The case captured national attention and prompted a feverish search effort that included the FBI and more than a dozen police departments.

"A.J. is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice," said James Black, the police chief in Crystal Lake.

Freund and Cunningham were taken into custody and await a bond hearing. They face the murder charges and counts of aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery and failure to report a missing child. Freund was also charged with two counts of concealment of homicidal death.

Freund and Cunningham provided investigators with evidence that led them to A.J.'s body, hidden in a remote area in nearby Woodstock, Black said.

Early Wednesday morning, the Chicago Tribune reported, police officers and evidence technicians were leaving the family's house, taking with them a shovel, a large tub, paper bags and a mattress. They also removed a dog, which a neighbor identified as a brown boxer named Lucy.

In the days leading to the arrests, police trained their investigation on the home, saying they had no reason to believe A.J. had been abducted. That was when, police said, Cunningham stopped cooperating with authorities. Her attorneys told the Tribune that they advised her to cease communications with police once it appeared that she was a suspect.

Authorities had been familiar with the Freund home for years. A.J. lived there with his parents and his younger brother, who was placed in the care of the state's family services department after A.J. was reported missing. Officers who visited the residence described a squalid, unkempt interior, according to a batch of redacted reports that local police released this week.

After one visit, an officer wrote that conditions were "not be up to an acceptable standard of living with two young children living at the residence. . . . I observed it to be cluttered, dirty and in disrepair." Windows were broken, and dog feces and urine covered the floors, the report said. In the boys' bedroom, the smell of feces was "overwhelming."

On other occasions, police observed that the house had gone without electricity for days and that one of the children had a "large bruise on his right hip," which, police were told, may have been caused by the dog. One report describes suspected drug use by guests living in the house's basement. A woman told police that she thought the guests were using heroin and said she had found a syringe on the kitchen floor.

The Tribune reported that the family services department has been involved with A.J.'s family since he was born in 2013, when doctors found opiates in his system.



(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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