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Coroner releases cause of death of 5-year-old Andrew Freund

Police found 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy Andrew “AJ” Freund’s body early Wednesday morning buried in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic near Woodstock | Photo provided by the Crystal Lake Police Department.

An autopsy showed that Andrew “AJ” Freund died from “craniocerebral trauma” as a result of multiple blunt force injuries, the McHenry County Coroner’s Office said.

McHenry County Interim Coroner David Devane released the results Thursday afternoon following the autopsy. AJ suffered craniocerebral trauma, which is a brain injury.

The parents of Andrew Freund allegedly forced the boy into a cold shower “for an extended period of time” and beat him, knowing that it would cause his death, a criminal complaint alleges.

36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham, the boy’s mother, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

60-year-old Andrew Drew Freund Sr., the boy’s father, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of concealment of a homicidal death, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Andrew Drew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham | Booking photos provided by Crystal Lake Police Department.

The criminal complaint stated that the boy was killed on April 15 and Andrew Freund Sr. buried his body the same day.

Both parents are being held at the McHenry County Jail on a $5 million bond following a bond hearing Thursday morning.

Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black and FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Sallet announced Wednesday during a press conference that the missing boy’s body had been found on private property near Gayle Drive and Dean Street in unincorporated Woodstock.

Cunningham and Freund Sr. told police where the boy’s body was located after police obtained new information through a forensic analysis of cell phone data, Black said.

Crystal Lake police officers, McHenry County sheriff’s deputies, FBI agents and other law enforcement converged on the Woodstock property early Wednesday morning and located the body buried in a shallow grave wrapped in plastic, Black said.

“On behalf of the Crystal Lake Police Department, we would like to thank the FBI, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and the other local, state, and county law enforcement and fire department and emergency management entities. Their assistance was instrumental in bringing closure to this investigation,” Black said during the press conference.

“To AJ’s family, it is our hope that you may have some solace in knowing that AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice. We would also like to thank the community for their support and assistance during this difficult time. To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer,” Black said.

Investigators removed several items, including a dirt covered shovel, a mattress, two brown bags and a bin from the family home in Crystal Lake Wednesday morning. Animal control also seized the family dog around the same time.

A makeshift memorial consisting of flowers, stuffed animals, candles and other items is setup during a vigil at the Woodstock Square | Photo by Alex Vucha.

Three days after his death, Andrew’s dad reported the boy missing on April 18. During a 911 call, Andrew Freund Sr. told dispatchers that he last saw his son when he put him to bed around 9:30 p.m. April 17 at the family home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake.

The second day of the search, police said that they were confident Andrew had not been abducted and had not walked away on foot. They had focused their investigation on the family’s home and declared it a crime scene.

At least 15 police agencies along with the FBI were called in to help with the search and investigation. More than 373 acres were search by foot and more than 497 acres were covered by aerial search.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been involved with Andrew since he was born in 2013 with opiates in his system. DCFS ended contact with the family in December 2018.

After Andrew went missing, his younger brother had been taken into protective custody by DCFS.

On Tuesday, police released 63 pages of compiled police reports detailing their interactions with the family home and parents in the last five years. In those reports, police officers noted the dirty condition the family’s home was in, saying that the home had broken windows, no power, strong feces and urine odors, and other issues.

“The outcome of this case is a result of the extraordinary efforts of all of the Investigators directly involved in the case,” Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black said as he concluded at the press conference Wednesday afternoon.

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