Crystal Lake Boy's Parents Each Held on $5M Bond Following Murder Charges

Joann Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, are charged with murder in the death of Andrew "AJ" Freund

An Illinois judge set bail at $5 million each for the parents of Andrew "AJ" Freund one day after the Crystal Lake couple was charged with murder in the death of their 5-year-old son.

Joann Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, appeared separately on Thursday morning at the McHenry County Jail during a hearing in which a prosecutor told Judge Mark Gerhardt that Freund allegedly beat Andrew "AJ" Freund and forced him into a cold shower.

Read the full complaints against them (Warning: disturbing details)

Authorities dug up a body Wednesday later confirmed to be that of AJ, who was reported missing a week ago. The McHenry County Coroner's office on Thursday identified the body as AJ's and said the cause of death was "craniocerebral trauma as a consequence of multiple blunt force injuries."

Cunningham cried as the judge read the charges against her while Freund Sr. sat silent. Prosecutors initially called for $10 million bonds for each parent. 

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.

The judge's order means the parents would each have to post 10%, or $528,000, to be released from jail and would be subject to electronic monitoring. They were told they cannot contact each other or anyone under the age of 17 and must surrender any firearms and consent to random drug testing, should they post bond. 

Prosecutors had originally asked for a bond of $10 million. The two were next expected to appear in court April 29. 

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 a few miles from the family's Crystal Lake home.

The discovery came a week to the day since AJ's parents said they last saw the child after putting him to bed around 9:30 p.m. on April 17. 

The following morning, Freund Sr. called police to report AJ missing, telling a dispatcher they'd checked "closets, the basement, the garage, everywhere,"in the house to no avail, according to the 911 call released Tuesday. But investigators quickly knocked down the possibility of a kidnapping.


Police said both parents were questioned overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. After investigators confronted them with cell phone data evidence "both Joann and Andrew Sr. provided information that ultimately led to the recovery, what we believe is the recovery of deceased subject AJ," said 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 Dolve Avenue home. 

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.

Police scoured the area surrounding the family's home for days after the boy's disappearance, searching hundreds of acres of land and water before centering their investigation on the house, saying they found no evidence of an abduction. 

"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." 

Both parents appeared Tuesday in McHenry County Circuit Court for a custody hearing related to their other son, who was removed from the family home following AJ's disappearance and is in custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

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