CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — In newly released documents from court records, McHenry County detectives detailed the graphic findings of their investigation into the case of Andrew “AJ” Freund, the missing Illinois boy found in a shallow grave April 24.
The 5-year-old’s parents, Andrew “Drew” Freund and JoAnn Cunningham were charged with his murder. A few days after AJ was reported missing on April 18, investigators suspected foul play.
After K-9s soon established that AJ did not leave his Crystal Lake home, the focus turned to his parents in the days and hours leading up to his disappearance. Already well-known to the Department of Child and Family Services for reported cases of abuse, cases that were found by DCFS to be unfounded, police found the home to be dirty and in a hoarder-like condition.
Their story began to unravel when Drew Freund consented to a search of his cellphone in the early morning hours of April 15. It was then that investigators learned there was a Google search for "Child CPR" on April 15.
They also found a picture of a shopping list that was taken on April 17. According to the documents, several items of note on the shopping list were duct tape, plastic gloves, air freshener and bleach. The items were purchased at the local Jewel-Osco.
In the home, police found laundry that smelled of bleach and at least four bleach bottles. They also found Drew Freund's gym shoes with dripping wet mud.
Under questioning from detectives, the couple tried to explain away the shopping list. They said tape was going to be used for hanging pictures. The bleach was to clean the premises — they said they went through at least one bottle a week. Detectives were skeptical of that information.
In regard to the CPR search in the middle of the night, Drew Freund said perhaps Cunningham was searching CPR for babies in anticipation of her future child. Cunningham is seven months pregnant. In addition to AJ, she is also the mother of his brother, 4-year-old Parker.
Days later on April 23, With the help of the FBI, investigators were able to recover a deleted video on Cunningham’s cellphone and a two-minute video of her berating AJ for urinating on his bed. In the video, AJ can be seen naked except for a few bandages around his wrists and hips.
Drew Freund told investigators that Cunningham believed AJ had "oppositional defiance disorder," or ODD, and AJ thinks of himself as the leader of the home and is therefore defiant to his parents, lies, disobeys and thinks things should go his way.”
He went on to detail how AJ, for example, would be punished for improperly washing and stacking dishes and lying.
Under mounting evidence, the couple confessed to the murder on the morning of April 24 and admitted that on April 15, AJ had lied about soiled underwear so he was subjected to a cold shower for about 20 minutes. After putting him to bed, Cunningham checked on AJ sometime later where she discovered he had died.
Drew Freund said, "the next day he took AJ's body to the basement and stored him in a tote. He said on 4/17/19 he placed AJ inside several trash bags, placed the body in the trunk of his car and drove him in an area in Woodstock."
He allegedly dug a shallow grave and placed the child in it and covered it with straw and left.
Both parents agreed to let the state's child welfare agency care for their younger son.