A.J. Freund disappearance: Body of missing 5-year-old boy found in Illinois, parents charged with murder

A.J. Freund disappearance: Body of missing 5-year-old boy found in Illinois, parents charged with murder
·2 min read

The body of a 5-year-old boy who was reported missing from his Illinois home last week has been found, police say.

Remains believed to belong to Andrew "A.J." Freund were discovered wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave in a Woodstock, Ill., field on Wednesday, Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black said during a press conference.

Both of A.J.'s parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, are being charged with five counts of first-degree murder, as well as battery and failure to report a missing child, in their son's disappearance and death, according to Black.

The break in the case came after Cunningham and Freund allegedly provided police with information that led them to A.J.'s body. The boy's exact cause of death remains unknown, pending an autopsy.

A.J. was first reported missing by his parents on the morning of April 18 from their home in Crystal Lake, approximately 50 miles northwest of Chicago. The pair said they had last seen their son around 9 p.m. the night before.

Hundreds of acres of land were scoured during a search by 15 responding police agencies, canine units, drones and even a sonar team, which was deployed to scan areas of Crystal Lake.

While no signs of A.J. were discovered during the manhunt, police said K-9 teams did pick up the boy's scent in the trunk of his parents' car, CBS News reports.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said it has "been involved" with the family since A.J.'s birth, department spokesman Jassen Strokosch told CNN. Strokosch said that the child "was brought into care with us" when "neglect was indicated on part of the mom."

A.J. remained "in care with someone else" from 2013 through 2015, when he was returned to his parents. Strokosch said that the DCFS was called to the family's home twice in 2018 on allegations of neglect in March and of abuse and neglect in December, although both sets of accusations were determined to be unfounded.

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