Andrew “A.J.” Freund, the 5-year-old Illinois boy whose body was found Wednesday morning in the woods, was forced into a cold shower “for an extended period of time” before he was beaten “repeatedly” to death by his parents on April 15, prosecutors allege. He died as a result of “craniocerebral trauma” caused by “multiple blunt force injuries,” the McHenry County Coroner’s office announced Thursday.
Nine days after his murder, the missing toddler’s body was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave about seven miles away from his Crystal Lake home.
The toddler’s parents, 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham, who is currently pregnant, and 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr., were arrested and charged hours after the Wednesday discovery with first-degree murder, aggravated battery, domestic battery, and failure to report a missing child or child death. Freund Sr. was also charged with concealment of a death.
“It was apparent to me that nobody was going to sleep and nobody will sleep until justice is brought for AJ. This is the beginning of that process,” said FBI Agent Jeffrey Sallet at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
The couple appeared at McHenry County Circuit Court on Thursday morning, wearing orange prison jumpsuits as Judge Robert A. Wilbrandt set their bond at $5 million each. Both were represented by public defenders, who did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that three days before the 5-year-old’s parents reported him missing, he was forced into the shower and then “struck” to death.
Local, state, and federal authorities launched a multi-county search for the little boy, finally finding his body after the couple was confronted with cell-phone evidence, Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black told The Daily Beast on Thursday. Search crews recovered the toddler’s body in the woods and technicians immediately removed evidence from the family’s home, including a child’s mattress and a shovel.
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SOURCE: The Daily Beast, Pilar Melendez