Watch: police confirm parent charged with the murder of missing ‘AJ’ Freund
Video Credit: WGN9
Five-year-old AJ Freund was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in a rural area of Woodstock in McHenry County, Illinois.
Initially, his parents, JoAnn Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr, 60, said that AJ mysteriously vanished from their home in Crystal Lake, Illinois, after he went to bed.
Police arrested his parents and later, they helped lead police to the boy’s remains.
His parents are now facing multiple charges including first-degree murder and battery in the death and disappearance of their son AJ.
But, why AJ was allowed to be with his parents in the first place after child services had visited the family home 17 times since his birth in 2013?
Officers said the home had an ‘overwhelming smell of dog feces and urine’ and that the house was in ‘disrepair’.
The responding officer, Kimberly Shipbaugh, wrote in her report: ‘While in the residence I observed it to be cluttered, dirty and in disrepair.’
‘The floor in the kitchen had portions that were jagged and broken off.The ceiling in the kitchen appeared to have water damage and was peeling and open in one portion.
‘The door appeared to be covered in a brown substance. The living room had a couch that was completely covered in piles of clothing. The dining room was covered in clothes and boxes and bags.’
‘Upstairs in the room where the boys slept the window was open and the smell of feces was overwhelming.’
Despite all this, AJ and his three-year-old brother were not removed and were allowed to live with their parents.
Chief Black said:
‘To AJ’s family, it is my hope that you may have some solace knowing that AJ is no longer suffering, and his killers have been brought to justice.’
‘To AJ, we know you’re at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer.’
The Illinois Department of Child Services said in a statement after AJ’s death: ‘After a nearly week-long search for missing Andrew ‘A.J.’ Freund, law enforcement officials today confirmed his death. This news is heartbreaking.’
‘Protecting vulnerable children who come to our attention is at the core of our mission at DCFS. All of us feel this loss. Our priority is the care and safety of Andrew’s younger sibling. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation.’
‘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.’
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