The demolition of a suburban Chicago home where a couple allegedly beat their 5-year-old son to death began Wednesday.
In November, a judge gave the Crystal Lake community permission to demolish the house where Andrew “AJ” Freund was killed last April.
The dilapidated home at 94 Dole Avenue sat boarded up for months, condemned by the city of Crystal Lake as the property remained tied up in foreclosure litigation.
In April, Andrew Freund Sr., 60, and Joann Cunningham, 36, were accused of fatally beating their 5-year-old child inside the home and burying his body in a field in a nearby suburb.
In a complaint filed with McHenry County on July 10, the city requested to demolish the property, noting the more than $100,000 it would cost to repair the home.
A May inspection revealed risks to the public, deeming the property unsafe following multiple violations. Inspectors found black mold, a rodent infestation, excessive trash, broken utilities, exposed wires and no working smoke detectors, records showed.
Some residents said they support tearing it down and others have suggested on social media that a memorial park be built on the lot, honoring the child whose death shook not just the northwest Chicago suburb, but the country.
Freund Sr. called police on Apr. 18 to report AJ missing, telling a dispatcher that he and Cunningham last saw the boy while putting him to bed the night before and that they'd checked "closets, the basement, the garage, everywhere," in the house to no avail, according to the 911 call.
But investigators quickly knocked down the possibility of a kidnapping, saying there were no signs that AJ had been forcibly removed from the home.
Police said both parents were questioned and after investigators confronted them with cell phone data evidence "both Joann and Andrew Sr. provided information that ultimately led to the recovery" of AJ's body, Crystal Lake police said at the time.
Cunningham and Freund Sr. were each indicted on 20 charges apiece in connection with AJ's death, including first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a child, among others.
Cunningham changed her plea to guilty earlier this year and will face 20 to 60 years in prison. She is expected to learn her sentence on April 30, a judge ruled Thursday.
Freund Sr. also appeared in court Thursday and waived a trial by jury. He is next expected to appear in court on April 24.