CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of communications for the Department of Children and Family Services now says case workers followed up on their last investigation into Andrew “A.J.” Freund‘s family and actually went to the home in December before determining all allegations against the family were unfounded.
Police called the house cold, dirty and in disrepair. They found one of the boys bruised and only wearing a pull-up.
Police say dog feces were everywhere, and the smell in the boys’ room was overwhelming even though the windows were open.
CBS 2 was told DCFS followed the case for days after, but they would not clarify exactly why the allegations of abuse and neglect were determined unfounded.
The case was closed.
A neighbor told CBS 2 she raised red flags.
“I knew neighbors had called in for them leaving and leaving the children at home, and they were 3 and 1 years old,” Janelle Butler said. “I think, ‘What was I doing when that was going on?’ I hear he was beaten or abused or the things that are coming out. I’m mean, ‘What was I doing? Was I cooking dinner? Was I walking the dog the other way down the block?’ And this child was being killed. I don’t know how people ever get past this.”
Butler moved right across the street from the family a few years ago. And while she called the police when she saw what she says any parent would find concerning, there are a few moments now that she just can’t get out of her head.
One late night during a snow storm she says she heard calls for help coming from the family’s car. The boys were yelling they were cold.
“All of a sudden A.J. pops out from under a bunch of black garbage bags filled with clothes or something, I don’t know, and says, ‘Boo!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, A.J., why are you guys out here with the snow?'” she said. “And he goes, ‘My parents are going to kill each other, but if they don’t, my mom and I and [my brother] are going to have an adventure at a hotel. We are going to have an adventure tonight.'”
The head of communications told CBS 2’s Tara Molina he would have more information to share on the case Thursday morning, but had not shared anything 6 p.m., saying it was a legal approval behind the holdup and the information would be shared first thing Friday.
CBS 2 will follow up with DCFS to try to get that information.
A.J.’s body was found Wednesday morning, wrapped in plastic, and buried in a shallow grave near Woodstock, about 7 miles from his family’s home in Crystal Lake.
His parents, 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham and 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr., have been charged with his murder. They had told police they put him to bed on the night of April 17, and found him gone the next morning, but according to court documents, they killed him on April 15.
According to court documents, both parents forced A.J. to stay in a cold shower “for an extended period of time” and struck him repeatedly on his body on April 15, and then A.J.’s father buried the boy’s body later that day.
Cunningham also faces aggravated battery charges for allegedly beating A.J. on March 4, causing “great bodily harm.”
A.J.’s official cause of death is blunt force trauma to the brain, according to the McHenry County Coroner.