Parents charged in death of missing 5-year-old boy

By Meg Wagner and Brian Ries, CNN
4:23 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019
3:39 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019

What we know so far about the death of 5-year-old AJ Freund

Crystal Lake Police have charged Joann Cunningham and Andrew “Drew” Freund, Sr. in the death of their 5-year-old son, AJ, days after the boy disappeared from their Illinois home.

Here's what we know so far about the boy's disappearance and death:

  • What happened: The search for AJ began last Thursday morning when the boy's father, Andrew Freund Sr., calmly called police and reported him as missing. He told the dispatcher he put AJ to bed on Wednesday night but could not find him the next morning.
  • Where police looked: Soon after beginning their investigation, police said it was unlikely AJ was abducted or ran away. Instead, police focused on the home itself.
  • Where they found the body: Police said what they believe is AJ's body was found "buried in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic" in Woodstock, Illinois. Police said AJ's parents gave information that ultimately led officers to his body.
  • How AJ died: A cause of death has not yet been determined.
  • The charges: Cunningham and Freund each face five counts of first degree murder, among other charges.
3:25 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019

AJ's parents gave police information that led them to his body

Joann Cunningham and Andrew “Drew” Freund, Sr. — who have been charged in the death of their 5-year-old son, AJ — gave police information that ultimately led officers to his body, police said.

Police and FBI investigators interviewed the parents "after information was obtained through a forensic analysis of cell phone data," Crystal Lake Police wrote in a statement.

"Once presented with evidence obtained by investigators, both Joann and Andrew Sr. provided information that ultimately led to the recovery of the deceased subject," the statement read.

3:17 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019

These are the charges AJ's parents are facing

Joann Cunningham and Andrew “Drew” Freund, Sr. have been charged in the death of their 5-year-old son, Andrew "AJ" Freund.

Here's the full breakdown of the charges they face:

Joann Cunningham

  • 5 counts of first degree murder
  • 4 counts aggravated battery
  • 2 counts of aggravated domestic battery 
  • 1 count of failure to report a missing or child death 

Andrew “Drew” Freund Sr.

  • 5 counts of first degree murder
  • 2 counts aggravated battery
  • 1 counts of aggravated domestic battery 
  • 2 counts of concealment of homicidal death 
  • 1 count of failure to report a missing or child death 
3:10 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019

Officials have not yet determined cause of death

Chief James Black of the Crystal Lake Police Department said Andrew "AJ" Freund's cause of death is unknown at this time.

The coroner's office will determine the cause of death at a later date, he said.

Black said officers found what they believe to be AJ's body buried in a shallow grave and wrapped in plastic. The 5-year-old had been missing for about a week.

3:09 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019

AJ Freund's parents charged with first-degree murder

Crystal Lake Police are charging both of AJ Freund's parents with murder after the two provided information that led police to his body, which was discovered in a remote area of Woodstock, Illinois.

The cause of death is unknown.

The boy's father, Andrew Freund Sr., and his mother, JoAnn Cunningham, are charged with five counts of first-degree murder as well as a variety of other charges, including battery and failure to report a missing child, police said.

Police added that it was forensic evidence from cell phone data that was presented to the parents during interview that led to a break in the case.

2:57 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019

Police say they've found AJ Freund's body

Crystal Lake Police say they believe they have found the body of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund, who had been missing for about a week.

The body was "buried in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic," police said.

12:36 p.m. ET, April 24, 2019

The news conference will now be at 2 p.m. ET

The police and the FBI news conference about AJ Freund, the missing 5-year-old who was last seen a week ago, has been pushed back until 2 p.m. ET.

11:58 a.m. ET, April 24, 2019

SOON: Police to hold press conference on missing Illinois boy

Crystal Lake Police and the FBI will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. ET regarding the search for A.J. Freund, the missing 5-year-old who was last seen a week ago.

Speaking at the conference, police say, will be Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black and FBI Special Agent Colin McGuire.

11:36 a.m. ET, April 24, 2019

Officials previously reported the smell of "dog feces and urine" at the home of missing 5-year-old

From CNN’s Sheena Jones and Brad Parks 

Crystal Lake police released a redacted 63-page FOIA request detailing several calls made to the home of JoAnn Cunningham. 

In one of the reports an officer describes the unlivable conditions in the home including ‘dog feces and urine’ on the floor, the report said.

Read the report excerpt:

Cunningham’s 5-year-old son, AJ, went missing from their home in Crystal Lake, IL last week.

During one visit to the home in 2018, officials recalled broken windows, water damage on the kitchen ceiling, piles of clothes on the couch and the dining room table. The officer recalled going upstairs to where Cunningham’s two boys slept only to smell a strong smell of feces with the windows open, the report said.

Cunningham is expected to appear at the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, Illinois for a custody hearing today regarding her younger son that was removed from her home after AJ went missing.