DCFS releases detailed timeline of involvement with Crystal Lake boy’s family

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CHICAGO — The Department of Children and Family Services released a timeline Friday morning of its involvement with the family of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund, whose body was found Wednesday in a shallow grave in Woodstock.

His parents Andrew Freund Sr., 60, and JoAnn Cunningham, 36, have been charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors said the couple forced the boy to stand in a cold shower for an “extended period” of time, then beat him to death.

The parents are being held on $5 million bond each after appearing separately in court in McHenry County. Freund Sr. and Cunningham will be arraigned on April 29.

The timeline comes as DCFS Director Marc D. Smith is scheduled to be questioned in Chicago about the agency’s actions in the case of the 5-year-old boy from Crystal Lake, who was under the agency’s watch.

According to DCFS, the agency’s first interaction with the family began in 2012, prior to Andrew’s birth. Cunningham was a DCFS foster parent who had two prior unfounded cases in 2012. The first case was for Inadequate Supervision and the second case was for Risk of Harm and Environmental neglect.

In Oct. 2013, Cunningham gave birth to Andrew, whose toxicology screen tested positive for opiates and benzodiazepines. Andrew was removed from his mother’s care, and DCFS was granted temporary custody of him. Andrew was then placed with his cousin, in what is called a relative foster home. At 18-months-old, the court returned Andrew in the care of Cunningham. In Dec. 2014, Andrew’s younger brother was born and remained home with his mother. In April 2016, the juvenile court closed Andrew’s case and DCFS monitoring ceased.

In March 2018, DCFS began an investigation into allegations of neglect by his father and mother. The investigation was closed in May as unfounded and Cunningham agreed to reenter treatment. In Dec. 2018, DCFS began an investigation into an allegation of abuse and neglect against Cunningham, following the removal of Andrew from the home by law enforcement. Bruising of Andrew was attributed to the dog and an investigator determined there was no evidence to support deplorable conditions in the home. The investigation was closed in January as unfounded.

On April 18, 2019, Andrew was reported missing. After a nearly week long search, he was found dead. During this time, Andrew’s younger brother was placed in DCFS custody. He is now in the care of his cousin, a relative foster home.

DCFS is currently conducting a comprehensive review of the agency’s work with Andrew’s family. Both the caseworker and the supervisor responsible for his case have been placed on administrative duty and will have no casework responsibilities as this review takes place. DCFS will also be reviewing all cases that have been handled by these two employees.

Below is a timeline provided by DCFS:

06/07/12: DCFS received a hotline call alleging inadequate supervision. The allegations were that JoAnn is abusing prescription drugs and neglecting her foster child. The report was unfounded and expunged.

12/24/12: DCFS hotline received a call alleging environmental neglect and injurious environment as to her oldest son. The report alleged JoAnn is abusing prescription drugs and has mental health issues. The report was unfounded and expunged.

10/16/13: DCFS received a hotline report alleging substance misuse by neglect, after JoAnn gave birth to Andrew on 10/14/13. Andrew and JoAnn tested positive for opiates and benzodiazepines. The report was indicated for Substance Misuse. Andrew was removed from his mother’s care during the investigation.

11/12/13: DCFS takes protective custody of Andrew.

11/14/13: DCFS is granted temporary custody of Andrew in Juvenile Court. Youth Service Bureau of Illinois is assigned to provide services to the parents and Andrew.

JoAnn and Andrew’s father participated in parenting classes, drug treatment and continued to participate in methadone maintenance and individual counseling through a drug treatment program.

June, 2015: Judge orders Andrew returned to the custody of his mother.

Youth Service Bureau worker makes 17 unannounced visits to the parents’ home on 6/24/15, 7/1/15, 7/8/15, 7/22/15, 8/5/15, 8/9/15, 8/27/15, 9/1/15, 9/29/15, 10/4/15, 10/26/15, 12/17/15, 1/13/16, 1/21/16, 2/2/16, 2/25/16, and 3/11/16. The worker does not observe any signs of abuse or neglect.

Youth Service Bureau worker makes nine scheduled visits to the parents’ home on 6/13/15, 6/17/15, 7/7/15, 7/20/15, 9/9/15, 11/12/15, 12/3/15, 3/24/16 and 4/13/16. The worker does not observe any signs of abuse or neglect.

8/28/15: Worker is informed the father’s drug test was invalid.

April, 2016: Andrew’s juvenile court case is closed.

03/21/18: DCFS received a hotline report that alleged substantial risk of physical injury/injurious environment and environment neglect against the mother and father. The report alleged that the mother was brought to the emergency room after being found unresponsive in a car. Andrew was observed at the hospital to have odd bruising on his face.

DCFS investigator contacted the parents in unsuccessful attempt to see the children on 03/21/18, 3/29/18 and 4/9/18, 04/25/18 DCFS investigator met with JoAnn, Andrew and his younger brother. JoAnn was interviewed while the boys played outside in the driveway of the home. DCFS investigator observed the boys to be clean and did not find signs of maltreatment.

05/17/18: DCFS investigator completed a final safety assessment of the home. Both boys were observed clean and dressed appropriately. Mother reported a history of drug use and current drug treatment. The home was observed to be clean, neat and adequately furnished.

05/18/18: DCFS investigator verified mother’s participation in a drug treatment program. The report from March, 2018 was unfounded and the investigation closed.

12/18/18: DCFS received a hotline report alleging environmental neglect as to both boys and cuts, welts and bruises as to Andrew. After being called to the home by the mother, police observed a large bruise on Andrew’s hip. Police observed the ceiling falling down, the floor torn up, and the kids’ bedroom smelled of dog urine. JoAnn was arrested for driving on a suspended license and Protective Custody was taken of both children.

12/18/18: DCFS investigator interviewed the boys at Crystal Lake Police Department. DCFS investigator attempted to engage the younger brother who would not talk to the investigator. The child appeared to be healthy and well cared for. Andrew was interviewed and reported that he received the bruise when the family dog pawed him. DCFS investigator interviewed JoAnn at the police station. She stated they were remodeling the home and did admit to dog feces and urine being present in the home. DCFS investigator asked her to take Andrew to Immediate Care after she was bailed out. The father presented to bond mother out. JoAnn requested to be tested for drugs. DCFS investigator ended Protective Custody and children were returned home.

12/18/18: ER Physician examined Andrew and could not state how his injury was caused. The doctor reported injury could have been caused by a dog, belt or a football. The doctor was concerned because Andrew stated that “maybe someone hit me with a belt. Maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me.” DCFS investigator contacted the father to pick the children up from hospital until the home environment can be assessed. The father was asked to remain in the home as a safety precaution.

12/19/18: DCFS investigator conducted an unannounced home visit. The home was observed. The living room and dining room were cluttered with clothes and toys. The kitchen was clean and the floor was missing tile. The ceiling was not falling and investigator sensed a slight odor of dog urine. No feces or urine was observed on the floor. The father reported to the investigator that he did pick the children up from the hospital last night. The father denied any corporal punishment and he denied mother using drugs.

12/20/18: DCFS investigator spoke with the past DCFS investigator regarding her case and findings.

01/04/19: DCFS unfounded the report due to lack of evidence for cuts, welt and bruises allegation.

04/18/19: The police were called to the home in response to Andrew being reported missing and DCFS received a hotline report alleging environmental neglect and inadequate supervision. Police observed the home to have ripped up floors, food lying around and clothes/garbage everywhere.

04/18/19: DCFS investigator arrived at the Crystal Lake Police Department and spoke with the police. Protective custody of younger brother was taken. The younger brother was placed with a licensed foster parent. The younger brother was examined by a medical professional, appeared healthy and showed no obvious visible signs of abuse or neglect.

04/24/19: Police found Andrew’s body and arrested JoAnn and Andrew’s father on charges of murder and other charges related to his death.

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