Illinois parents charged with first-degree murder in the shocking and appalling death of their 5-year-old son AJ Freund have reportedly handed over custody of their younger son to the state’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). It happens mere days after DCFS placed “the caseworker and the supervisor responsible for this case” on administrative duty, and also follows reporting that police responded to the Freund residence 17 times over a five-year span.
The Northwest Herald reported that Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham, pictured above, have handed over custody of their 4-year-old son to the state.
According to the separate documents, police said they each parent “forced A.F. (AJ) to remain in a cold shower for an extended period of time and or struck A.F. on or about his body, knowing said acts would cause the death of A.F., thereby causing the death of A.F.”
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The alleged acts of forcing the child to take a long, cold shower and striking him provided the basis for a number of other charges as well, including aggravated battery. They also face charges of concealing a homicidal death by allegedly burying the boy’s body, and failure to report child death for allegedly not reporting AJ’s death within 24 hours of it happening.
Freund Sr. and Cunningham reported AJ missing on Thursday, April 18. Police found his body the following Wednesday and arrested the couple.
“I have no idea where he would be,” Freund Sr. said, claiming he had looked around the neighborhood for his son.
Given the allegations against them, the couple stands to lose custody of their son permanently; that is what prosecutors are seeking.
The parents are not permitted to contact their son and they each remain jailed in McHenry County on $5 million bond.
Freund, an attorney by trade with documented drug problems, was described as “expressionless” in court, while a bulletproof-vested Cunningham reportedly kept her head down. As Law&Crime reported before, the Freund family had been on DCFS’ radar ever since he was born with opiates in his system.
Cunningham is currently pregnant.
Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.
[Image via Crystal Lake Police]