Parents charged with murder after body of missing Illinois boy believed found in shallow grave

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Ill. (CBS) — Investigators have found what they believe to be the body of a 5-year-old boy went missing from his suburban Chicago home nearly a week ago. Remains police believe are those of Andrew “AJ” Freund were found wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave in a remote area of Woodstock, Illinois, about seven miles from the boy’s home, Crystal Lake police chief James Black said Wednesday.

Both of the child’s parents are in custody and have been charged with murder, battery and other counts, Black said. The boy was reported missing from his Crystal Lake home by his family Thursday morning. In a 911 call released Tuesday, the boy’s father Andrew Freund Sr. said he last saw the boy when he went to bed the night of April 17. The elder Freund said the boy was missing when he returned home the next morning from an early doctor’s appointment.

Investigators earlier said the boy’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, was the last person to see the child and had stopped cooperating with police.

Cunningham’s lawyer denied Cunningham was not cooperating, saying she was helpful during the investigation until it became clear police considered her a suspect, and he advised her to stop communicating with them, CBS Chicago reported.

Investigators previously said they did not believe the boy was abducted. They were back at the family’s home Wednesday morning, and were seen removing a shovel, the mattress from a child-sized bed, several large bags and a large plastic bin, and loading them into an evidence team van, CBS Chicago reported.

During interviews in the overnight hours, Black said both the mother and the father were confronted with forensic analysis of cellphone evidence developed by investigators. Both then provided information that led to the recovery of the body, Black said.  

The boy’s cause of death has not yet been determined, Black said. It was expected to be released later by the McHenry County Coroner’s office.

“To AJ — we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer,”  Black said. 

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