CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — The woman charged with murder in the death of her 5-year-old son, AJ Freund, is pregnant and will likely give birth while in detention.
The body of AJ Freund was found in a shallow grave last month in Woodstock, Illinois, about 10 miles from his home in Crystal Lake. His parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., were arrested and charged with murder, aggravated battery and failure to report a missing child or death.
Cunningham is seven months’ pregnant.
Once her baby is born, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will receive a call from the hospital to initiate its involvement with the child, said Jassen Strokosch, the agency’s spokesman.
“… Plans for the newborn will need to include permanency in another home,” Strokosch said. “This could be with relatives or another foster care home. Ultimately, the decision will be up to a judge, but most likely the goal will be to work toward adoption.”
Consideration will be given to family members
In Illinois, consideration for children born to mothers serving time is given to family members if it’s in the best interest of the child. Court documents obtained by CNN on Thursday said the father of Cunningham’s baby is not Freund.
“If the father is able to care for the newborn, they would have custody of the child,” Strokosch said. “If there isn’t a father available and absent other plans, DCFS becomes involved. We would work with the courts to create a plan for the child based on the best interest of the newborn.”
A judge will look at several factors to determine custody. The parents have agreed to let the state’s child welfare agency care for a younger son. County prosecutors filed a petition to terminate Cunningham and Freund’s parental rights to the younger boy, the TV station said, citing local reports.
Strokosch said the same thing will likely happen when the mother gives birth.
“The types of charges certainly play a role in determining if a parent is unfit to have custody of their child,” he said. “In this case, the charges involved will certainly come into play.”
The long-term custody decision for any child is ultimately up to a judge.
“Whatever judge oversees the custody of the newborn child will certainly take the family’s wishes into account when determining what is in the best interest of the child,” Strokosch said.