Just moments before a Crystal Lake couple accused of killing their 5-year-old son, Andrew "AJ" Freund, appeared in bond court Thursday, windows at the McHenry County Correctional Facility appeared to send a poignant message.
Numerous handmade signs appeared in windows of the building attached to the McHenry County Courthouse reading “RIP AJ.” As many as five different signs could be seen posted in windows on several floors of the building.
They were visible just before 8 a.m., but soon after, all but one were taken down.
The McHenry County Jail did not immediately respond to a request for comment on who posted the signs or why they were taken down.
AJ's parents were each ordered held on $5 million bonds Thursday, one day after they were both charged in the boy's death and disappearance.
Joann Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. faced a judge for the first time since authorities said they found what they believed to be AJ's body on Wednesday. Cunningham cried as the judge read the charges against her while Freund Sr. sat silent.
Cunningham was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.
Freund Sr. was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealment of homicidal death and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.
WARNING: Details below may be disturbing for some readers.
The parents allegedly forced the young boy to stand in a cold shower and beat him three days before the child was reported missing to police, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.
The complaint alleges that on April 15, AJ's parents forced him "to remain in a cold shower for an extended period of time and/or struck [AJ] on or about his body, knowing that said acts would cause the death of [AJ], thereby causing the death."
According to the McHenry County Coroner's office, the body found in the makeshift grave in unincorporated Woodstock was identified as AJ and the cause of death was listed as "craniocerebral trauma as a consequence of multiple blunt force injuries."
The incidents took place two days before the couple told police they last saw their child while putting him to bed on April 17. The next morning they reported him missing.
Crystal Lake police said Wednesday that investigators located a body wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in a remote area of Woodstock, just miles from the Crystal Lake home where the boy was reported missing six days earlier.
Police said both parents were questioned overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning after information was obtained during a "forensic analysis of cell phone data."
"Once presented with the evidence obtained by investigators, both Joann and Andrew Sr. provided information that ultimately led to the recovery, what we believe is the recovery of deceased subject AJ," Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black.
Law enforcement and first responders descended on a large wooded area in Woodstock Wednesday morning. At the same time, police were seen searching the family's home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake.
Moments later, evidence technicians brought items from an evidence van into the Crystal Lake police station. Those items included a mattress, a large bin, two large brown bags, and an item that appeared to be a shovel with a long wooden handle.
"To AJ’s family, it is our hope that you may have some solace in knowing that AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice," Black said Wednesday. "We would also like to thank the community for their support and assistance during this difficult time. To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer."