UPDATE: Mom Pleads Guilty In Murder Of AJ Freund, Missing Illinois Boy
AJ was reportedly “buried in a shallow grave, wrapped in plastic”; cops say the parents cracked and directed them to the body.
As reported by WGN9 JoAnn Cunningham has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her 5-year-old son AJ. She now faces 20 to 60 years in prison.
ORIGINAL POST 4/24/19:
CRYSTAL LAKE, IL — The search for missing five-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund has ended with officials reportedly finding the boy’s body about 15 minutes away from his home. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
Andrew Freund, Sr., and JoAnn Cunningham, AJ’s parents, have both been charged with five counts of first-degree murder.
On Wednesday morning, Cunningham was reportedly spotted at the Crystal Lake Police station, after previously having been “uncooperative.”
At around the same time, officials were seen removing numerous items from the family’s home, including a shovel, a mattress, lawn bags, and a plastic storage bin. Animal Control also took custody of the family’s dog.
At a press conference, Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black stated, “It is with heavy heart that the Crystal Lake Police Department has located what we believe to be the body of Andrew ‘AJ’ Freund earlier this morning … buried in a shallow grave, wrapped in plastic in a remote area of Woodstock, Illinois.”
Black went on to say that “forensic analysis of cell phone data” had been presented to the parents during overnight interviews, after which they “provided information that ultimately led to what we believe is the recovery of the deceased subject, AJ.”
Police said that more details would not be forthcoming at this time, to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.
AJ was first reported missing last Thursday. His parents said they put him to sleep the night before and he was gone when they woke up.
As a massive search ensued to find the missing child, authorities placed AJ’s younger brother in protective custody.
Reports then came to light about the family living in squalid conditions and being investigated multiple times over the past three years due to allegations of neglect and abuse.
After being formally arrested on Wednesday, Andrew Freund, Sr., and JoAnn Cunningham were each charged with five counts of first-degree murder, six counts of aggravated battery (total), two counts of aggravated domestic battery, and one count each of failure to report a child death.