Crime Illinois Father of murdered 5-year-old AJ Freund gets 30 years behind bars
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An Illinois father has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars for his role in the slaying of his 5-year-old son, AJ Freund.
Andrew Freund Sr. entered three guilty pleas during a court appearance on Friday as part of a deal with prosecutors, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was first charged with first-degree murder in the death of his young son, who vanished in April 2019.
Andrew Freund is led out of court for a trial status appearance at the Michael J. Sullivan Judicial Center, formerly known as the McHenry County Courthouse, on Friday. (Matthew Apgar/)
Authorities did not initially believe he had been abducted, but became suspicious when AJ’s 35-year-old mother, JoAnn Cunningham, refused to cooperate with authorities. Both Cunningham and Freund were charged by the month’s end.
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Under the plea deal Freund will get credit for time already served since he was taken into custody on April 26, 2019. The same day, authorities discovered AJ’s body in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic near the family’s home in Crystal Lake, located about 54 miles northwest of Chicago.
Following the gruesome discovery, evidence emerged that the young boy had endured torture at the hands of his mother.
Freund eventually admitted to authorities that Cunningham had engaged in “some hitting” just before AJ’s death, and the boy was put in a cold shower. He recalled Cunningham “taking the spray nozzle thing and putting it like right in his face,” causing the boy to fall in the tub, court records said.
Cunningham awoke Freund early April 15, 2019, to tell him AJ wasn’t breathing, prompting them to look-up child CPR online. After they were sure the boy was dead, Freund said he would “handle it” and then stored his body in a plastic tote in the basement
A.J. Freund Case: Father Called 911 to Report Boy Missing, Now He's Going to Prison for Killing Him
Andrew Freund, 61, admitted he called 911 to report his son was missing after hiding the child's battered body in a plastic bin in the basementOn Friday, nearly one and a half years since the little boy’s body was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave, Andrew Freund, 61, of Crystal Lake, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery to a child, involuntary manslaughter, and concealment of a homicidal death in connection with the killing of his son, online court records show.
Several days later, Freund buried his son, according to the Chicago Tribune.
JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. faced numerous charges including the murder of Andrew (AJ) Freund. (Crystal Lake Police/)
Freund was sentenced to 11 years for a count of aggravated battery of a child, 14 years for involuntary manslaughter and five years for concealment of a homicide.
The deal also requires that he cooperate in an investigation into the Department of Children and Family Services.
AJ had been known to state child welfare workers from birth, when both he and Cunningham had opiates in their systems. While he was previously removed from his parents' custody by Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services, he was returned to them about 20 months later.
Two former agency workers face charges in connection to AJ’s case. And Cunningham pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder and was sentenced last month to 35 years in prison.
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