Remains believed to be missing 5-year-old boy found in ‘shallow grave’ in rural area

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CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — Remains believed to be the body of Andrew "AJ" Freund, a 5-year-old boy reported missing from Crystal Lake last week, were found buried in a "shallow grave" in a remote area of Dorr Township Wednesday morning, according to investigators.

“Investigators located what they believe to be AJ’s body buried in a shallow grave, wrapped in plastic in a remote area of Woodstock, Illinois,” Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black said.

The McHenry County Sheriff and Coroner said the remains were found in a "makeshift grave" near a farm access road west of Dean Street in unincorporated Dorr Township. Neighbors say the remote gravel road is known to local teenagers, and one neighbor says he’s routinely chased people off trying to dump their garbage.

The body was removed from the scene, and driven in caravan of law-enforcement vehicles and a dark minivan to the McHenry County Coroner's Office, where an autopsy is tentatively scheduled for Thursday morning.

Those who live near where the body was found say whoever slipped in to do the deed, did so quietly.

“Our dogs always bark at night if they see a suspicious car and we didn’t hear anything,” neighbor Luis Maldonado said.

Police said the boy's mother, JoAnn Cunningham, and father, Andrew Freund Sr., shared details that led investigators to the location early Wednesday. Both now face multiple murder, battery and other charges in his death.

As investigators searched for the remains, they also returned to the family home and removed several items including a shovel, a mattress, two lawn bags and a large bin.

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When he was reported missing, AJ's parents told police he was last seen around bedtime on April 17. The days since have involved multiple searches by law enforcement. Tuesday's search focused on Veteran Acres Park in Crystal Lake, with police using sonar to check the pond. But hours of searching there, and also in Stern Woods, yielded nothing.

Since the disappearance, the family’s history with DCFS and Crystal Lake Police has come to light, with multiple reports of abuse, neglect and drug use. Police reports included disturbing details about unsanitary living conditions, and they released the 911 call made by AJ’s father.

Freund Sr. is Cunningham's former divorce attorney. The two never married, but were said to be living together with their children, and no longer dating.

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