CHICAGO (CBS) — The parents of a 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy, who were charged with his murder, have prior criminal records, ranging from retail theft to battery.
A body believed to be A.J. Freund was found buried in a shallow grave near Woodstock, more than seven miles from his family’s home in Crystal Lake.
On Wednesday morning, investigators at the Freund family house came out carrying large bags, a shovel and a small mattress. Then, McHenry County Animal Control came to remove a dog from the house.
JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. both have criminal records. Cunningham’s dates back to battery charge in 2013. She negotiated a plea deal, paid a fine and got six months supervision, anger counseling and drug addiction treatment.
The same year, she was charged with retail theft, took another plea and received more supervision and fines.
This was all while the Department of Children and Family Services was investigating Cunningham for neglect after A.J. was born with opiates in his system.
A.J. was put into protective custody at a foster home in 2013. In 2015, records show A.J. was returned to Cunningham. In 2016, that case was closed.
In 2018, Cunningham was charged with driving on a suspended license. That case is still active.
As for the father, Andrew Freund Sr. is a lawyer but was put under disciplinary probation conditions because his license was suspended and he was held in contempt of court.
Records show financial trouble. Freund’s home, where A.J. lived, is in foreclosure. Freund is representing himself in that case.
As for his criminal history, Freund was charged with retail theft in 2013, and received one year supervision and drug and alcohol treatment. A year earlier, he had two battery charges but was found not guilty.
In a statement, DCFS acting director Marc Smith said:
“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.”
Two vigils are planned for A.J. — one at Woodstock Square, the other at the Freund family home in Crystal Lake.