Parents Of AJ Freund Both Held On $5M Bond Following Murder Charges

The two are accused of killing, burying their son 3 days before reporting him missing.

Nancy Harty
April 25, 2019 - 11:42 am
JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr.

Crystal Lake police

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CRYSTAL LAKE (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A $5 million bond was set Thursday for both parents of Andrew "AJ" Freund, following charges related to the death and disappearance of their 5-year-old son from their home in Crystal Lake, Illinois. 

The body of who police believe is Andrew "AJ" Freund was found Wednesday, wrapped in plastic, and buried in a shallow grave near Woodstock, about 7 miles from his family’s home. 

His parents, 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham and 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr., have been charged with his murder. The two appeared separately before a judge on Thursday for bond hearings. Cunningham cried as the judge read the charges against her, while Freund Sr. sat silent minutes later. 

According to a criminal complaint, AJ Freund died three days before his parents reported him missing. The Crystal Lake boy was reported missing on April 18, but it appears he died on April 15.

According to court documents, both JoAnn Cunnigham and Andrew Freund Sr. forced AJ into a cold shower "for an extended period of time", and the 5-year-old was repeatedly struck, leading to his death.

Freund, Sr. faces an additional count of concealment of a death. Court documents allege he buried his son's body.  

Cunningham also faces aggravated battery charges for allegedly beating AJ on March 4, causing “great bodily harm.”

An official cause of death has not yet been determined, but AJ’s autopsy was scheduled for Thursday.

JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr.
Crystal Lake police

Prosecutors had originally asked for a bond of $10 million; but the judge set both parents’ bond at $5 million. In order to be released, the parents must each pay $528,000 to post bond - 10 percent of the bond amount plus a $28 sheriff’s fee.

If they post bail, they would be placed on electronic monitoring and were told they cannot contact each other or anyone under the age of 17, must surrender any firearms, and would have to submit to random drug tests.

The two were next expected to appear in court April 29.

Cunningham has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery, and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Read JoAnn Cunnigham's full criminal complaint below:

Freund, Sr. has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealment of homicidal death, and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Read Andrew Freund, Sr.'s full criminal complaint below:

Crystal Lake Police said during the overnight hours on Tuesday, investigators with the Crystal Lake Police Department and the FBI interviewed both JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, Sr., after information was obtained through a forensic analysis of cell phone data.

"Once presented with the evidence obtained by investigators, both JoAnn and Andrew Senior, provided information that ultimately lead to what we believe is the recovery of deceased subject, AJ," said Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black.

An autopsy for AJ was scheduled for Thursday. The McHenry County Coroner's Office is expected to release the official cause of death. 

Andrew Freund
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

"To AJ's family, it is my hope that you have some solace in knowing AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice..." said Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black on Wednesday. "To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven's playground and are happy that you no longer have to suffer."

According to the parents, AJ was last seen around 9 p.m. last Wednesday, April 17, when they put him to bed. His father, Freund, Sr., reported him missing the next morning. 

Three days into the search, police began focusing their search on the family’s Crystal Lake home, saying they do not believe the child was abducted or that he left the house on foot. Police also said AJ's mother, JoAnn Cunningham, was not cooperating in the investigation.

On Wednesday morning, police began searching a wooded area near Gayle Drive and Dean Street in Woodstock on Wednesday morning, about 7 1/2 miles west of the family’s home. That was where the body was found Wednesday morning.

Andrew “AJ” Freund House
WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

Investigators also were back at the family’s home Wednesday morning, where they removed several large bags, a large plastic bin, a shovel, and a child's mattress. A McHenry County Animal Control team also removed a dog from the family’s home.

The Freund family has a long history with DCFS, after AJ was born with opiates in his system in 2013. He was placed in foster care in 2013 when he was about a month old, but DCFS returned him to his parents about 18 months later. Two later complaints to DCFS about abuse and neglect were deemed unfounded.

The couple’s other son, who is 3-years old, was removed from the home after AJ was reported missing. DCFS placed him with another family. Both parents appeared Tuesday in McHenry County Circuit Court for a hearing, seeking to regain custody of that son, prior to being charged in the murder of AJ.

Andrew "AJ" Freund /Crystal Lake Police

Police also visited the home several times over the last five years. They often noted poor conditions in the home including no power, dog feces, urine, and clutter. 

Read below the past five years’ worth of police calls for service at the Freund residence: