CBS 2 has the latest on the search for missing Crystal Lake boy A.J. Freund, 5. The boy remains missing Friday night, and police have asked residents of the town to search their properties.

UPDATE: (4:45 p.m.): The whereabouts of missing Crystal Lake boy A.J. Freund are still unknown, and DCFS says his younger brother is in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services.

DCFS says the agency has been in contact with Freund’s parents since 2013 when the missing boy was born with opiates in his system amid allegations of neglect against his mother, JoAnn Cunningham.

In 2013, A.J. was placed into foster care when he was about a month old, records show. He was returned home about 18 months later, in June 2015.

In March 2018, a DCFS investigation deemed neglect allegations against both parents were unfounded, and the mother agreed to reenter drug treatment.

In December of last year, DCFS said allegations of abuse and neglect against the mother were unfounded.

UPDATE (4:40 p.m.): Police officers search the home of the missing boy, less than an hour after a criminal defense attorney hired by the boy’s mother claims her innocence to reporters during a press conference held in the front lawn of the family’s residence. 

 

CHICAGO (CBS) —Sobbing and clutching a plastic carryout bag from the Goodwill store that apparently contained photos of her missing 5-year-old son, Andrew “A.J.” Freund, the boy’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, appeared in public for the first time today.

Standing beside Cunningham Friday afternoon in front of the home where the boy was last seen at bedtime around 9 p.m. Wednesday, criminal defense attorney George Kililis told reporters Cunningham was left shaken after police searched the family’s downtown Crystal Lake home.

Kililis insisted Cunningham had nothing to do with her son’s disappearance. Police said Friday it was unlikely the child was abducted and that authorities were focusing the investigation on the family’s home.

JoAnn Cunningham, the mother of missing boy A.J. Freund, appeared in public with her defense attorney George Kililis Friday.

It was uncertain whether police were considering Cunningham a suspect, Kililis said.

“She doesn’t know what happened to A.J. and had nothing to do with the disappearance of A.J.,” Kililis said. “She’s worried sick.”

Cunningam was emotional as Kililis spoke to a sea of reporters gathered in front of the family’s home on Dole Avenue.

“The house has gone through a search and the house is in rough shape and everything inside it, and quite frankly, it’s very depressing to Ms. Cuinningham,” Kililis said. “She doesn’t want to stay here (so) for the next 48 hours she’s going to be staying with a friend.”

Less than an hour after the press conference ended, seven police squad cars pulled up to the house and officers went inside.

Kililis is only representing Cunningham and not the boy’s father, Andrew Freund Sr.

Earlier Friday, Freund Sr. told the media he was “extremely worried,” and begged for his son to come home. Meantime, investigators said there is no indication so far that A.J. was abducted, and they are focused on the family’s home.

Freund Sr. Friday afternoon said he has no idea where his son might be.

“We’re just extremely worried. If anybody knows anything about where Andrew Jr. is, please please contact the Crystal Lake Police Department. Let’s get him home,” he said. “A.J., please come home. We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”

Moments before he spoke to reporters, Andrew Freund Sr. briefly spoke with police investigators at their request.

The missing boy’s father, Andrew Freuend, Sr., spoke with police and reporters Friday in front of the family’s home.

“We really need to speak with you to obtain more details, so that we can find your son,” one officer told Freund.

Police also asked Freund to go back inside his home, so they could speak to him about the case, but Freund said he needed to go get his cell phone.

“I can’t. I can’t. I’ve got to take care of a few things, because I have no phone. I have no way of communicating,” Freund said. “If somebody’s trying to get a hold of me, I need to be able to receive calls. I’ve got my brother looking, all of his friends are looking. There’s no way to communicate with me right now, because I don’t have my phone.”

A day after 5-year-old Andrew “A.J.” Freund went missing from his home in northwest suburban Crystal Lake, police said there is no indication he was abducted, and did not walk away from his house. Their search is now focused on the family’s home.

“In reviewing all investigative information thus far, there is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place. At this point, the police department has no reason to believe there is a threat to the community. Information obtained currently has police focusing on the residence,” Crystal Lake Police Deputy Chief Tom Kotlowski stated Friday afternoon.

A.J.’s parents said they discovered him missing when they woke up Thursday morning.

While no officers were seen at the family’s house Friday morning, search teams used dogs to search the parents’ car on Thursday, and brought in bloodhounds to track his scent. Police said the canine teams only picked up A.J.’s scent inside the home, indicating he did not walk out of the house.

Andrew “A.J.” Freund has been reported missing from northwest suburban Crystal Lake. (Crystal Lake Police)

Police activated an Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System mutual aid request on Thursday, bringing in assistance from 15 police agencies to help search the area on foot, and using four drones. Approximately 373 acres were covered during a foot search, and 497 acres were covered via aerial search by drones.

Around 6 p.m., the police department requested a sonar team to scan areas of Crystal Lake itself. Sonar technicians used cameras to search under the docks and piers along the entire shore length of Crystal Lake. They also utilized side scan sonar techniques within the lake itself off the main beach area.

The sonar teams concluded their search around 10 p.m. without locating anything.

The FBI also has joined the search, but said Crystal Lake Police are leading the investigation.

A.J. is about 3 feet 5 inches tall, weighs about 70 pounds, and has short blond hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants.

Neighbors said the family’s home has been in bad condition for a while. They also said the couple often fought and argued, and police officers have been called to the family’s home several times.

“I didn’t sleep. I doubt very many neighbors slept during the night. I just couldn’t sleep thinking about it. It’s a 5-year-old that we all know, even if not personally over at our homes. He’s been over trick-or-treating and things like that. Your heart just breaks. It’s a 5-year-old. I mean, where he is he?” Crystal Lake resident Kerry Sivertsen said.

Andrew “A.J.” Freund has been reported missing from northwest suburban Crystal Lake. (Credit: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

A.J.’s parents were not at the house for much of the day on Thursday. Neighbors said they left with police Thursday morning. No one answered their door Friday morning.

Anyone with information about A.J.’s whereabouts should call police at 815-356-3620.

Police have said they did not issue an Amber Alert, because they cannot confirm an abduction occurred.

Police said they do not believe there is a threat to the community.

Charlie De Mar