Parents of missing Crystal Lake boy ‘AJ’ Freund have stopped cooperating, cops say; father leaves home with police – Chicago Tribune
As Crystal Lake police continued to search for 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund two days after he was reported missing, authorities say the boy’s parents have stopped cooperating with them.
Investigators are following up on “hundreds of tips,’’ Crystal Lake police Chief Jim Black said Saturday. “This is still an ongoing investigation,’’ Black said.
Black said no arrests have been made, but the father, also named Andrew Freund, left the home about 1 p.m. Saturday with plainclothes police officers. He was not in handcuffs when he entered a black unmarked police car with them.
Officers inside the police station about 1:15 p.m. declined to say why Freund was there or if he was under arrest.
Police have said they don’t believe the 5-year-old was abducted, but the father and the boy’s mother were not cooperating with the investigation. Black described the whole situation as being “disturbing.”
“The fact that both parents have stopped cooperating with us certainly raises our suspicions,” Black said.
Andrew was last seen at bedtime, about 9 p.m. Wednesday in the family home in the first block of Dole Avenue in the northwest suburb. After waking up Thursday morning and being unable to find him in the home, Andrew’s parents reported him missing.
Andrew has blond hair and was wearing a Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants when he was last seen. He is about 3 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 70 pounds.
Neighbors have said the father was out in front of his home earlier Saturday.
A neighbor said he had come out of the house and hugged a woman who came to lay flowers down near the home and Freund asked the neighbor to pray.
Black said the evidence they have collected so far “doesn’t support an unknown offender, and there is no evidence to say an abduction occurred.”
Police are following up with anyone known to have had any contact with AJ or last saw him.
Black said police returned to the house Friday “based on new information (they) obtained,” and he couldn’t say whether they would go back to the house again but added, “If we need to go back in, we will.”
Black asked that the community continue to contact the police department with any information and to keep an eye out. Officers have covered hundreds of acres in and around the area, and will continue to do so.
“Things like this don’t happen in Crystal Lake,” Black said. “We take it very seriously. We are acting on everything that comes in at this point. We are hoping we can find him.”
A vigil has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Crystal Lake Main Beach, 300 Lake Shore Drive, according to a Facebook page named, “Where is Andrew Freund.”
On Friday afternoon, local defense attorney George Kililis said he is representing JoAnn Cunningham, the boy’s mom, who is seven months pregnant.
Kililis said the mother is “depressed” and “sad.”
“She is devastated. She’s worried. … All she cares about is her little boy. That’s it,” Kililis said
Kililis said he told her not to say anything after it appeared during questioning on Thursday that police seemed to be accusing her.
DCFS, which has the job of protecting children from abuse, released the following statement Friday: “The department’s involvement with Andrew Freund began with his birth in 2013 and continued on and off through the end of 2018. The last contact between DCFS child protection staff and Andrew’s family was in December of 2018 while investigating allegations of abuse and neglect.”
The home was searched by dozens of law enforcement officials Thursday and again Friday.
Late Friday, state child welfare officials released information about the family of the boy since he was born in 2013 with opiates in his system. DCFS continued having contact off and on until late 2018, a spokesman said.
On Thursday, Andrew’s younger brother was placed in another home under a DCFS safety plan.
DCFS released a timeline highlighting interactions between DCFS and Andrew’s family:
- In October 2013, DCFS investigated an allegation of neglect by the mother and found there was credible evidence to substantiate the allegation. Andrew was born with opiates in his body.
- The following month, DCFS took Andrew into protective custody. He was placed in a foster home and not returned to his own home until June 2015. The case was closed in April 2016.
- In March 2018, DCFS investigated allegations of neglect by the father and mother, but concluded they were unfounded. The mother agreed to re-enter treatment.
- On Dec. 18, 2018, DCFS investigated another allegation of abuse and neglect by the mother, and the boy was temporarily removed by police, but he was returned to the home after the allegations were ruled unfounded. There was no evidence to support allegations of deplorable conditions in the home, and bruising on the child was attributed to the dog.
After a daylong search Thursday came up fruitless, police Friday in a news release said: “In reviewing all investigative information thus far, there is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place.’’ They also said: “Information obtained currently has police focusing on his residence.’’
Canine teams that “only picked up Andrew’s scent within the residence indicated that Andrew had not walked away on foot,’’ police said.
A neighbor who lives across the street said the boy’s father left the home through a back door about 2 p.m. Friday and began walking down Dole Avenue. While walking he said, “Find my son … find my son,’’ according to neighbor Janelle Butler.
Butler said police approached him and tried to keep others away from him, but not before he made a plea to media members who were at the scene.
“AJ, please come home,” he said. “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”
Authorities ask anyone with information to call the Crystal Lake Police Department, 815-356-3620. Anyone with a cellphone who has information regarding the child can send an anonymous tip to the department by texting the word CLPDTIP along with the tip to 847411 (tip411).
Amanda Marrazzo is a freelance reporter.