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“Maybe someone hit me with a belt, maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me” Andrew Freund previously told to doctor

A new report released by DCFS on Friday revealed new abuse allegations in the case of Andrew “AJ” Freund | Photo (left): Andrew Freund, provided by Crystal Lake police. Photo (right): Excerpt from report released by DCFS.

A new report detailing the timeline of DCFS involvement with Andrew Freund shows that he told a doctor months before his death, “Maybe someone hit me with a belt. Maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me.”

On Friday, the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services released a more detailed timeline of their interactions with Andrew “AJ” Freund. The agency first interacted with his family in 2012 before he was born.

JoAnn Cunningham, the boy’s mother, was a DCFS foster parent who had two prior unfounded cases for inadequate supervision and risk of harm and environmental neglect, DCFS said.

In October 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 temporarily granted custody of Andrew, the agency said.

The court returned the boy to his mother’s care 18 months later. In April 2016, the juvenile court closed Andrew’s case and DCFS monitoring was ceased.

In March 2018, DCFS began an investigation into neglect allegations against the mother and father, but closed the case in May 2018 as unfounded after the mother agreed to enter treatment again.

In December 2018, DCFS opened a new investigation into abuse and neglect allegations against the mother after police found Andrew to have suspicious bruising. DCFS closed the case after attributing the bruising to the family dog, despite Andrew telling an emergency room doctor, “Maybe someone hit me with a belt. Maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me.”

“DCFS is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our work with AJ’s family. Both the caseworker and the supervisor responsible for this case have been placed on administrative duty and will have no casework responsibilities as this review takes place,” DCFS said in a statement.

“DCFS will also be reviewing all cases that have been handled by these two employees,” officials added.

Full DCFS Timeline

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.

Read the full report here.


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