In Woodstock, Illinois, Crystal Lake Police received a missing person report on Andrew “AJ” Freund, 5, on April 18. Upon investigating the report, police discovered his body, shrouded in plastic and buried in a shallow grave.
The night before finding the body, police had questioned the boy’s parents. Police had already gathered cellphone data evidence that led them to believe the parents were involved in his disappearance. The interview with Andrew’s parents helped police locate the boy’s ‘grave’ located within a few miles from the Crystal Lake home of the Freunds.
After the discovery of the boy’s body, Joann Cunningham and Andrew “Drew” Freund were arrested and charged with various crimes, including murder.
According to court reports, the boy’s parents had subjected him to a long, cold shower, then subsequently beat him to death. The McHenry County Coroner’s autopsy showed the boy’s death was a result of “multiple blunt force injuries resulting in craniocerebral trauma.”
AJ’s parents had reported the boy missing, and told police he was not seen since the night before at bedtime. Investigators were quickly able to rule kidnapping out. Apparently, this had not been the first time local authorities had been involved with the family. Previous incidents had prompted police to visit the home. One reported visit documented the home environment as being rife with dog urine and feces, including AJ’s room, reporting the “smell of feces was overwhelming.” Yet another report indicated that the home was “cluttered, dirty and in disrepair.”
Medical reports from AJ’s birth in 2013 showed opiates in the newborn’s system at the time of birth. This had prompted the Illinois DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) to maintain ongoing monitoring of the family. After the discover of AJ and his parent’s arrest, AJ’s surviving brother was removed from the home by DCFS.
A statement released by Marc Smith from Illinois DCFS said, “The department is committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the entirety of our work with Andrew’s family to understand our shortcomings and to be fully transparent with the public on any steps we are taking to address the issues.”
Jeffrey Sallet, head of Northern Illinois FBI stated, “This is not the outcome that we want to talk about … but it is the unfortunate result.”
Crystal Lake Police also commented on the boy’s death, “To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer.”