The mother of a missing Crystal Lake boy is no longer speaking to police, her recently acquired defense attorney said Friday, after her lawyer said authorities might be considering her a suspect in the child’s disappearance.
Joann Cunningham was cooperating with cops until her defense attorney, George Kililis, got the impression she was being treated as a suspect, he told reporters outside the home of Andrew Freund Jr., who was reported missing Thursday. He said he is not representing the boy’s father Andrew Freund Sr.
“Ms. Cunningham cooperated with the police extensively yesterday,” Kililis said. “Until at some point we got the impression that she may be considered a suspect. I don’t know if she is (considered a suspect) or not and I don’t know how serious that consideration is or not.”
Kililis said the family's home has been searched and is in “pretty rough shape.”
“And quite frankly it’s very depressing to Ms. Cunningham and she doesn’t want to stay here,” he said.
Cunningham will be staying with a friend for the next 48 hours, he added.
“Ms. Cunningham doesn’t know what happened to AJ and had nothing to do with the disappearance of AJ,” he said. “Ms. Cunningham is worried sick, she’s devastated and we are asking for a little bit of privacy and understanding and compassion from you guys (reporters) and the community. And we are asking for the community’s help in trying to find AJ.”
He asked for anyone who has any information about the boy’s disappearance to come forward and talk to the police.
“Ms. Cunningham had nothing to with the disappearance of AJ,” Kililis said. “She’s innocent of any wrongdoing and I would ask you guys to not assume the worst—I would ask the community to not assume the worst, I would ask the community to come together and help us locate AJ.”
He said after realizing Cunningham might be considered a suspect he advised her to remain silent.
A reporter asked if Cunningham, who was holding a white plastic bag near a scrum of reporters on the front lawn, had something she wanted to share. Cunningham appeared to nod and then began pulling dog-eared photos of children out of the bag and handed them to Kililis. The attorney then began putting them back into the bag, put his hand in the air and said “no, no.”
Police said the Thursday the investigation so far does not appear to indicate an abduction took place in the the boy's dissapearance.
Authorities said Friday that in the last 24 hours of their search, "several police search and rescue canine units, trained specifically to locate people... only picked up [Andrew Freund's] 'scent' within the residence indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot."
Police searched 373 acres on foot and roughly 497 acres via an aerial search by drones, they said.
Boat and sonar technicians from fire departments in the area searched under all docks and piers along the shore length of Crystal Lake, authorities said. They also searched within the lake itself off of the Main Beach area.
The teams ended their search around 10 p.m. Thursday without locating anything, police said.
"In reviewing all investigative information thus far, there is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place," police said in a statement. "At this point, the police department has no reason to believe there is a threat to the community."
Authorities said their search for the missing child remains focused on the home. They also asked area residents to "search your property" and report anything suspicious to police.
Crystal Lake authorities said Andrew, who also goes by “AJ,” was last seen around 9 p.m. Wednesday in the 0-100 block of Dole Avenue.
Andrew's parents reported they last saw the boy at bedtime Wednesday, but have been unable to locate him since they woke up Thursday morning.
"Andrew, please come home," Andrew's father told reporters Friday. "You are not in trouble."
Police said they were still investigating the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, but noted an Amber Alert has not been issued because officers are "unable to confirm an abduction occurred."
Federal authorities quickly joined the hunt for the missing boy Thursday afternoon.
The child is about 3 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs roughly 70 pounds and has short, blonde hair. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants.
Anyone who may have information on his whereabouts is being asked to call (815) 356-3620. They can also text information along with the word CLPDTIP to 847411.