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Crime & Courts

Crystal Lake police report describes Day 1 of AJ Freund investigation

A photo, dated July 9, 2013, is of a visit to the Freund's house at 94 Dole Ave., Crystal Lake.
A photo, dated July 9, 2013, is of a visit to the Freund's house at 94 Dole Ave., Crystal Lake.

A police narrative from the day AJ Freund was reported missing describes the boy’s bedroom as an “unkempt” space with a chain lock on the outside of the door and a window that was drilled shut.

A Crystal Lake police officer’s report from April 18 described in detail the conditions of the home at 94 Dole Ave., where investigators believe the 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy suffered deadly abuse at the hands of his parents.

AJ, whose parents described him as about 3-feet, 5-inches tall and 70 pounds, appeared to have slept in a modified crib, with sheets that were covered with mouse feces, Crystal Lake police officer Brian Harvat wrote. A chain lock on the outside of the door and two screws securing shut a window directly above an attached garage were there to keep the young boy inside his room overnight, AJ’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., allegedly told police.

“Andrew said AJ had exited the window once before, so he secured it by drilling two screws into the window,” Harvat wrote.

Crystal Lake police were called to the home April 18 after Freund and AJ’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, reported their son missing.

“[Freund] appeared very calm throughout my interaction with him, not showing much emotion when speaking about his missing child,” Harvat wrote in his report.

The father also had trouble recalling the color of AJ’s eyes. Freund originally told police he “thought they were blue,” but changed his answer after hearing Cunningham tell police AJ had brown eyes, Harvat wrote.

While officers interviewed Cunningham, she received a phone call from her boyfriend, who was incarcerated at the time, the report showed. During their conversation, Cunningham’s boyfriend asked if she’d “found AJ yet,” Harvat wrote. The officer took note of the question, since he hadn’t heard Cunningham tell the man about AJ’s alleged disappearance.

As police continued to search the home, they noticed missing flooring in the kitchen, where parts of bare wood boards were exposed, Harvat wrote. In the basement, police struggled to navigate through piles of garbage bags stacked on top of one another, he wrote.

“I moved various garbage bags in search for AJ, but only noticed cockroaches scattering away,” Harvat said.

Police and K-9 searches for AJ were unsuccessful. Freund noted to police that he and Cunningham already had spent more than an hour looking for their son before calling police. They also searched for AJ at North Elementary School, where Freund suspected the boy might have wandered to on foot, Harvat wrote.

The parents claimed to have noticed AJ was missing sometime between 8 and 8:30 a.m. April 18. It was about that time when Freund came home from a doctor appointment, and Cunningham was taking a shower, Harvat wrote.

“Andrew then came downstairs and started to prepare snacks for AJ ... .” the report stated. “Once finished, Andrew stated he went upstairs to get AJ … and realized he wasn’t inside,” Harvat wrote.

Police now believe the parents forced AJ into a cold shower and beat him until he died about three days earlier on April 15. Freund then stored the boy’s body in a tote in the basement for about two days before burying him in a shallow grave April 17 near Woodstock, according to police affidavits. Both Cunningham and Freund face several felony charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with AJ’s death.

A Department of Children and Family Services employee last visited the Dole Avenue home Dec. 19, according to a timeline that DCFS officials previously issued. The employee described the home as being “cluttered” with missing tiles in the kitchen, but stated that the kitchen was clean.

Police also had been called to the home on several occasions for well-being checks and domestic violence reports, and complaints of the family’s boxer, Lucy, running at large, reports show.

Photos provided by Crystal Lake police, which have date stamps from 2012 and 2013, show piles of garbage inside and outside the home, damaged ceilings and broken floors. 

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