Parents charged in death of Crystal Lake boy appear in court

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WOODSTOCK, Ill. — The parents of the 5-year-old boy whose body was discovered last week in rural McHenry County appeared in court Monday in Woodstock.

JoAnn Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, appeared in court for two separate proceedings. One is a custody case over the Crystal Lake couple’s 4-year-old son — the younger brother of Andrew “AJ” Freund.

During the other hearing, which took place earlier, the couple did not enter pleas to charges of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say that will likely happen May 10.  By then, they expect to secure a grand jury indictment.

The judge appointed a public defender for Cunningham, who struggled to speak.  She whispered to the judge that she has no money, hasn’t worked in two years, her last job was as a hair stylist, and her home is in foreclosure.

Andrew Freund Sr. asked the judge if he could have until Friday to see if he could hire a lawyer, which the judge granted.

Prosecutors allege Cunningham and Freund killed the 5-year-old on April 15 in their home at Dole Avenue and Grove Street.  Three days later they reported him missing.

Court documents state that the couple forced AJ to stay in a cold shower, and beat him.

Nearly a week later police found AJ’s body wrapped in plastic, buried in a Woodstock field about seven miles from his home. The coroner named severe head trauma as the boy’s cause of death.

DCFS has a long history with the Freund family, starting when AJ was born with opiates in his system.  Agency records show 17 visits to the house in one year.  And twice last year, case workers determined that neglect and abuse allegations against the parents were unfounded. They allowed AJ to stay with his parents.

On Monday, the courtroom was filled with neighbors and Crystal Lake area residents.

The case involving the 4-year-old son took place in another courtroom. DCFS did put him into protective custody. The next court date on the custody issue will be May 30.

JoAnn Cunningham is also seven months pregnant.

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