Andrew Freund Sr., Andrew Freund Jr., and JoAnn Cunningham. | Provided Photos.

12 members of the Crystal Lake Police Department have received a Medal of Valor and will be recognized as the “Most Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers of Year” for solving the murder of 5-year-old Andrew Freund.

The police department members will be recognized this week as the 2019 “Most Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers of the Year,” according to the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

The officers will be honored on Friday at the Annual Awards Banquet of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police in Tinley Park. The recognition was planned for last year but was postponed due to the pandemic.

Andrew’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., reported his son missing on April 18, 2019.

Andrew Freund Sr. walks in front of the family’s home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake in April 2019. | Photo: Alex Vucha / Lake and McHenry County Scanner.

Freund Sr. told dispatchers during a 911 call that he last saw his son when he put him to bed around 9:30 p.m. the prior evening at the family home in the 0-100 block of Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake.

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

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

Police noted the Freund residence was in disarray and there were mouse droppings on AJ’s bedsheets and on the floor of his room.

Details released days later showed the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been involved with AJ since he was born in 2013 with opiates in his system.

File Photo | Andrew Freund (undated photo).

“And so began some of the best police work ever seen in the state of Illinois, revealing terrible abuse of a boy by his addicted and troubled parents,” ILACP Executive Director Ed Wojcicki said.

Over the next few days, the story became national news while Crystal Lake detectives and the FBI worked “tirelessly” in search of AJ and for clues about what happened to him, Wojcicki said.

Police found evidence six days into the search on Freund Sr.’s cellphone that showed he searched for “child CPR.”

Police also found several videos on AJ’s mother’s iPhone and iCloud account that showed her physically and verbally abusing the boy.

JoAnn Cunningham and Freund Sr. were both charged with a slew of felony charges, including first-degree murder after Freund Sr. confessed to detectives.

Freund Sr. told police that AJ died at some point in the evening of April 14, 2019, after Cunningham had engaged in “some hitting” and AJ had been placed in a cold shower, prosecutors previously said.

The FBI and police converge on a field near unincorporated Woodstock in late April 2019 after the body of missing 5-year-old Andrew Freund was found | Photo: Alex Vucha / Lake and McHenry County Scanner.

Freund Sr. eventually took AJ out of the shower and put him to bed “naked and wet,” prosecutors said. Cunningham woke Freund Sr. up around 3 a.m. April 15, 2019, after she found that AJ was not breathing.

After realizing that AJ was dead, Freund Sr. told Cunningham he would “handle it” and placed AJ’s remains in a large plastic tote in the basement, prosecutors said. On April 17, 2019, he drove to a rural area outside of Woodstock where he buried them in a shallow grave.

The below twelve Crystal Lake officers will be honored on Friday:

  • Sergeant Mike Gasparaitis – Supervised several search warrants at residence; supervised burial site/recovery efforts; served as department liaison to several outside assisting agencies.
  • Detective Frank Houlihan – Conducted the execution of search warrants at the residence, secured and processed property; interviewed Andrew Freund in the initial days.
  • Detective David Eitel – Case agent; conducted interviews on both suspects; worked collaboratively with FBI while interviewing Andrew Freund; present in the interview when Freund confessed.
  • Detective Jason Duncan – Instrumental with generating and presenting search warrants for social media, vehicles, and residence.
  • Detective Dimitri Boulahanis- Conducted interviews on Joanne Freund atMCSO the morning the case was solved; conducted stationary surveillance activity.
  • Detective Russ Will – Conducted stationary surveillance on the Freund residence the morning case was solved; made contact with Freund at the residence that morning and successfully transported him to PD, where he soon thereafter confessed.
  • Detective Jeff Mattson – Conducted stationary surveillance on the Freund residence the morning the case was solved; made contact with Freund at the residence that morning and successfully transported him to PD, where he soon thereafter confessed.
  • Officer Chris Sanders – Assisted with search warrant executions and the collection and processing of evidence.
  • Officer Zachary Morse – Assisted with search warrant executions and the collection and processing of evidence.
  • Officer Scott Torkelson – Assisted with search warrant executions and the collection and processing of evidence.
  • Officer Mike Maloney – Instrumental with generating and presenting search warrants for social media; obtained video from subpoena return that provided the ability to set up the final strategy for solving the case.
  • Commander Ron Joseph – Provided overall direction of criminal investigation; worked in cooperation with several outside agencies.

“In addition to the individual actions of these officers, all worked tirelessly over the course of several days in order to bring the investigation to a conclusion,” Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black said.

The 12 were recognized privately last year with the ILACP Medal of Valor, but the association said they believe they still deserve public recognition now as the Illinois Chiefs’ 2019 Officers of the Year.

“That is why we invited them to our awards banquet this week in Tinley Park,” Wojcicki said.

“They will all likely say, as cops always do, that they were just doing the jobs they were trained to do. We want them to know that the rest of us in Illinois are deeply grateful for their service and their dedication to bringing a little boy’s murderers to justice. It’s just tragic that those killers were his parents,” he added.