CHICAGO (CBS) — Crystal Lake police planned to provide an update Wednesday on their investigation into the disappearance of 5-year-old Andrew “A.J.” Freund, who was reported missing last week. Meantime, investigators removed a shovel, a mattress, and other evidence from the family’s home; and his mother’s attorney was seen at the police station.
Police Chief James Black and FBI Special Agent Colin McGuire were scheduled to discuss the case at 1 p.m. at Crystal Lake city hall.
A.J.’s parents reported him missing last Thursday morning, telling police they last saw him the night before, when they put him to bed. His father, Andrew Freund Sr., spent at least three hours at the Crystal Lake Police Department on Saturday, but police later said his mother, JoAnn Cunningham had not been cooperating with the investigation.
Cunningham’s attorney, George Kililis, was seen leaving the Crystal Lake Police Department on Wednesday morning, but declined to answer questions. Detectives also declined to confirm or deny if they were questioning either of A.J.’s parents.
Kililis has denied Cunningham is not cooperating with police, saying she was helpful during the investigation until it became clear police considered her a suspect, and he advised her to stop communicating with them.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally also was seen at the police station on Wednesday, but no charges have been announced in the case. Kenneally said he was heading home, and any updates would have to come from police.
Investigators were back at the family’s home Wednesday morning, and were seen removing a shovel, the mattress from a child-sized bed, several large bags, and a large plastic bin, and loading them into an evidence team van. A McHenry County Animal Control team also removed a dog from the family’s home Wednesday morning.
Search teams also were examining a field near Dean Street and Gayle Drive in unincorporated McHenry County near Woodstock, about 7 1/2 miles west of the family’s home. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office said it was assisting in that search.
Investigators have said there is no sign of an abduction in A.J.’s disappearance, and that police search dogs found the boy’s scent only inside the home, indicating he did not walk out of the house. Crystal Lake police have searched the home multiple times since A.J. disappeared.
Police, fire and volunteer crews from across the area searched lakes, ponds and parks Tuesday, wrapping up at Stern Woods and Fen, about two miles north of the family’s home where police honed in, too.
Nothing was reported from any of the teams, who would only confirm they were searching.
Meantime, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services removed A.J.’s younger brother from the home after he went missing, placing him with another family. His mother, who is seven months pregnant, is seeking to regain custody, and a McHenry County judge was scheduled to appoint a new public guardian to represent the 3-year-old boy’s interests in court, with another custody hearing scheduled for next week.
Police reports released Tuesday indicate officers visited the family’s home 10 times over the past five years, often noting the poor condition of the home.
Seven months ago, last September, someone told police “the family was residing there without power and bad living conditions.”
When officers arrived the mother, Joann Cunningham, wouldn’t let them inside. From the outside, they reported the grass bring two feet tall. One officer said “I could see the [electric] meter did not appear to be running.” He later wrote that Cunningham admitted she and the boys were living without power for some time.
The latest visit was this past December. An officer clearly stated the house is “cluttered, dirty and in disrepair.” Officers said they saw dog feces and urine throughout the house. This was in the middle of winter and officers said the windows were falling apart. The rooms cold.
One officer said the “kitchen had only subflooring that was jagged and broken. He said the “ceiling in the kitchen appeared to have water damage and was peeling and open to the piping.” Another officer wrote “in the room where the boys slept, the window was open and the smell of feces was overwhelming.”
And when the officer saw the boys he said one had “… a large bruise on his right hip.” Cunningham “stated it must have been from the dog…”
Police on Tuesday also released the 911 call A.J.’s father made to report him missing last week. In the call, Andrew Freund Sr. told the dispatcher A.J. was put to bed around 9:30 the night before, and said he discovered his son missing when he went into his room to check in on him the next morning sometime between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. after returning home from an early-morning doctor’s appointment.
Freund told the operator that he had conducted a thorough search for A.J., including checking the entire house and a canvass of the neighborhood, during the roughly 30 minutes the child had been missing before calling 911. He also told police all the doors and windows of the home on the 90th block of Dole Avenue in downtown Crystal Lake had been secured the night before.
Explore the timeline of his disappearance and follow developments in the case here.
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