CHICAGO (CBS) — JoAnn Cunningham has been transferred to a prison in central Illinois, where she’ll begin serving her 35-year sentence for killing her 5-year-old son, A.J. Freund.
Cunningham was moved from the McHenry County Jail to the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln on Tuesday, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Cunningham, 37, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in July, seven months after pleading guilty to one count of murder.
A.J.’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., also has been charged in the boy’s murder, and has pleaded not guilty, but his defense attorney has suggested a plea deal could be coming soon. At a hearing in his case last month, Freund’s lawyer said he’s been engaged in “pretty serious negotiations” with prosecutors ever since Cunningham pleaded guilty.
A.J.’s parents were charged with a combined 61 counts in April 2019, including murder, aggravated battery, and concealing a homicide, after their son was found beaten to death and buried in a shallow grave in a field in Woodstock. An autopsy determined A.J. died of multiple blunt force injuries to his head.
Police and prosecutors say A.J.’s parents forced him into a cold shower as punishment for soiling his clothes and severely beat him with a shower head on April 15, 2019, at their home in Crystal Lake. His father later found him dead in his bed and buried him in a shallow grave in Woodstock. A.J.’s parents falsely reported him missing three days later.
For days, the community prayed A.J. was alive, but Freund later led police to A.J.’s body on April 24, 2019.
As part of Cunningham’s guilty plea to the murder charge, prosecutors dropped all other charges against her, including language that called the crime “brutal and heinous.” Prosecutors said she will not be eligible for parole and must serve her entire sentence. She had faced up to 60 years in prison.