Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

A 5-Year-Old Allegedly Killed By His Parents Was Forced To Stay In A Cold Shower And Beaten, Police Say

Police say his parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., buried his body in a shallow grave and claimed he had disappeared.

Posted on April 25, 2019, at 3:44 p.m. ET

Crystal Lake Police

New details have emerged in the death of Andrew "AJ" Freund, the 5-year-old allegedly murdered by his parents and buried in a shallow grave last week in a Chicago suburb.

According to a Thursday criminal complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News, AJ's parents, JoAnn Cunningham, 35, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, killed the boy by making him stay "in a cold shower for an extended period of time" and "struck" him.

They did this on or about April 15 "knowing said acts would cause the death" of their young son, the complaint states.

Cunningham, who is currently 7 months pregnant, faces charges of murder, aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery, and failure to report a missing child or child death.

Freund faces the same charges, as well as additional ones for concealing a homicide.

JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr.
Crystal Lake Police Department

JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr.

Police arrested Cunningham and Freund after they said they had found incriminating information through a forensic analysis of cellphone data. Once shown this evidence, the parents "provided information that ultimately led to the recovery of the deceased subject," according to police.

Following a weeklong search, AJ's body was found wrapped in plastic Wednesday in a remote area of Woodstock, Illinois, about seven miles from his home in Crystal Lake.

His parents had previously told police that they last saw AJ on the night of April 17. Freund called 911 the following morning, saying he'd just returned from a doctor's appointment and discovered the child was gone.

"We canvased the park, the local gas station down here where we sometimes take him to buy treats," the father said, according to a recording of the 911 call. "I have no idea where he would be... We've checked closets, the basement, the garage, everywhere."

A memorial for AJ outside his home
Scott Olson / Getty Images

A memorial for AJ outside his home

Police had visited the family's home 10 times over the past five years for a variety of reasons, including a dog being off its leash and a request for protection. Cunningham was arrested in December 2018 for driving on a suspended license.

Upon visiting the home during that arrest, a police officer noted that conditions were not "up to an acceptable standard of living." According to an incident report, dog feces and urine were all over, several windows were broken, the floor was "jagged and broken off," and the kitchen table and couch were piled with bags of clothes.

AJ and his 4-year-old brother, Parker, were observed wearing only pull-ups. Parker had a large bruise on his hip that his mother couldn't explain to the visiting officer.

The officer called Department of Children and Family Services at the time, who interviewed the young boys but were unable to determine if abuse was occurring.

Following his brother's disappearance, Parker was placed in protective custody.

ADVERTISEMENT