After a massive search, police located the body of Andrew "A.J." Freund in a nearby town
The parents of a missing 5-year-old Illinois boy are accused of murdering him after police discovered the child’s body wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave in a nearby town, police said at a Wednesday press conference.
Authorities launched a massive search for Andrew “A.J.” Freund of Crystal Lake when his father called police to report him missing last Thursday.
Ultimately, the boy’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., allegedly gave police information that led to the discovery of his body in nearby Woodstock, Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black said at the press conference.
Freund and mother Joanne Cunningham face first-degree murder and other charges, Black said.
“A.J. is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice,” Black said, adding that the boy’s cause of death has not yet been determined.
A.J.’s parents said they last saw him on April 17 at about 9 p.m. when he went to bed, police announced in a press release last week.
His father reported him missing the next morning when he told police he woke up and couldn’t find the child.
Earlier this week, police released a recording of Freund’s 911 call, where he can be heard calmly telling the dispatcher that he could not find his son, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“We have a missing child,” Freund tells the dispatcher, the Tribune reports. “I have no idea where he would be.”
While the boy was missing, search and rescue dogs picked up the boy’s scent in the trunk of his parents’ car, CBS News reports.
On Friday, the boy’s father spoke to reporters and delivered a message to his son, saying, “A.J., please come home,” the Lake and McHenry County Scanner reports. He added, “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”
But as of Monday, police say both parents were not cooperating with police.
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The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE that it has been dealing with the boy’s parents since his birth because he was born with opiates in his system.
On Friday, DCFS released a statement saying, “The department’s involvement with Andrew Freund began with his birth in 2013 and continued on and off through the end of 2018.”
Cunningham, who is 7 months pregnant, retained an attorney on Thursday who told her not to speak to police any longer, CBS News and the Tribune report.
“Ms. Cunningham doesn’t know what happened to A.J., and had nothing to do with the disappearance of A.J.,” her attorney George Kililis said, the Tribune and CBS report.
It was not immediately clear if Freund has retained an attorney.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620.