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State

Parents of missing Crystal Lake child stopped cooperating with authorities

Attorney George Kililis of KRV Legal and JoAnn Cunningham, mother of missing 5-year-old Andrew "AJ "Freund, talks with the media outside Cunningham's home on Dole Avenue on Friday in Crystal Lake.
Attorney George Kililis of KRV Legal and JoAnn Cunningham, mother of missing 5-year-old Andrew "AJ "Freund, talks with the media outside Cunningham's home on Dole Avenue on Friday in Crystal Lake.

The parents of a 5-year-old Crystal Lake child who was reported missing Thursday morning no longer are cooperating with authorities, which raises their suspicions, Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black confirmed Sunday.

Black said that, as of noon Sunday, there is no new information to provide on the case and no arrests have been made.

However, Crystal Lake police will be providing an update on the situation on Monday, he said.

Crystal Lake attorney George Kililis, who represents JoAnn Cunningham – the mother of missing child Andrew "AJ" Freund – told Good Morning America in an interview that aired Sunday morning that once he realized that the police considered his client to be a suspect, he advised Cunningham to remain silent.

“I just want my kids,” Cunningham said in the interview. “That’s all I have. That’s my life, are my kids.”

Freund’s father, Andrew, left the house on Dole Avenue for about an hour on Sunday but did not respond to reporters when he returned.

Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said law enforcement efforts have been stellar over the past few days and the pooling of resources between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and assisting agencies is a testament to their work.

From a community standpoint, Shepley said that everyone has been very supportive in bringing closure to the case.

“Everyone has come together in a really nice way,” Shepley said.

Black confirmed the department has received hundreds of tips on the case.

Neighborhood residents are continuing to hope for a speedy resolution.

Cheryl and Gary Burden were two of what they estimated to be a couple hundred attendees to Saturday night's vigil for Andrew.

Cheryl Burden said the whole situation was very unsettling for the community but the vigil was a very nice event with a message of retaining positive thoughts. 

“I sure wish they'd find him soon,” she said.

Gary Burden said it was a very strange situation and that they are willing to help in any way that can, even if it means joining searches for Freund.

Paul Wiedenfeld said he wanted to go to Saturday's vigil but couldn't. However, he was encouraged about the large turnout.

“I'm encouraged that the community came together to show a united front and the seeking of God to bring a good resolution,” Wiedenfeld said.

Throughout Sunday, residents dropped off flowers and candles in the front lawn of the Friend home.

About 8 p.m. Magda Fleck dropped a small bouquet with her mother. Fleck said she has four kids that she spoils rotten and who don’t know what it’s like not to be loved so this situation is especially heartbreaking.

Freund's parents have said their son last was seen about 9 p.m. Wednesday. Kililis also spoke outside of the home on Friday.

"At some point, we got the impression that she may be considered a suspect," he said then of Cunningham. "I don’t know whether she is or not."

Authorities do not believe the missing Crystal Lake boy was abducted, and they instead are "focusing on the residence," according to a news release Crystal Lake police sent Friday morning.

Police K-9 teams only picked up Andrew's scent within the house, indicating that the boy had not walked away on foot, according to the release.

Members of the FBI specializing in missing children and the Crystal Lake Police Department are investigating.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has taken custody of Andrew’s younger brother.

DCFS has had contact with Freund's family since he was born in 2013 with opiates in his system and amid neglect allegations against his mother, DCFS Deputy Communications Director Jassen Strokosch confirmed Friday evening.

Andrew was taken into DCFS custody in November 2013, a timeline provided by DCFS shows.

The agency has had contact with the family on and off until late last year, Strokosch said.

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