Body of missing Illinois boy found in
shallow grave, parents arrested
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[April 25, 2019]
By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) - The body of a 5-year-old boy
who was reported missing from his Illinois home last week was discovered
buried in a shallow grave on Wednesday and his parents were arrested on
murder charges, local police said.
The remains of Andrew "AJ" Freund, wrapped in plastic, were found in a
community near his home town of Crystal Lake, based on information
provided to investigators by his mother and father, Crystal Lake Deputy
Police Chief Tom Kotlowski said in a statement.
"To AJ's family, it is our hope that you may have some solace in knowing
that AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to
justice," Kotlowski said in the statement. "To AJ, we know you are at
peace playing in heaven's playground and are happy you no longer have to
suffer," he said.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week that police had been
concerned at least since September about living conditions in the home
where AJ Freund lived with his parents and younger brother.
The paper said that according to police reports the home was cluttered,
dirty and in disrepair, with broken windows and the overwhelming smell
"Our priority is the care and safety of Andrew’s younger sibling. We
will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in their ongoing
investigation," Marc Smith, acting director of the state Department of
Child and Family Services, said in a written statement.
"The Department is committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the
entirety of our work with Andrew’s family to understand our shortcomings
and to be fully transparent with the public on any steps we are taking
to address the issues," Smith said.
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A combination photo showing Joann Cunningham and Andrew Freund,
arrested in connection with the death of their 5-year old son Andrew
A.J. Freund, are shown in these booking photos, in Crystal Lake,
Illinois, provided April 24, 2019. Crystal Lake Police
Department/Handout via REUTERS
The boy's father, Andrew Freund, reported him missing on Thursday
morning, prompting an exhaustive search by local police and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in and around Crystal Lake, about 45
miles (72 km) northwest of Chicago.
Police said they would conduct an autopsy on the body, which was
found in a remote area of Woodstock, Illinois, about 20 miles (32
km) northwest of Crystal Lake along a major highway. No cause of
death was immediately released.
Television images showed forensic investigators working in a field
in Woodstock, shielded by a white canopy.
Both parents, Andrew Freund and Joann Cunningham, were arrested on
suspicion of first degree murder, aggravated battery and failure to
report a dead child. They were expected to make an initial court
appearance in the coming days.
An attorney for Cunningham could not be reached by Reuters for
comment on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if Andrew Freund
had retained an attorney.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler and Alistair
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