The McHenry County state’s attorney and an assistant state’s attorney have both been awarded for their “significant contributions” in prosecuting the parents in the Crystal Lake murder of AJ Freund.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) recognized McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and McHenry County First Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese.
The two were awarded the Heroes’ Award “for their outstanding efforts in safeguarding the well-being of children.”
The Heroes’ Award is an annual accolade that honors those who have made significant contributions to the prevention and resolution of cases involving missing and exploited children, according to the state’s attorney’s office.
Kenneally and Freese worked with colleagues and the Crystal Lake Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to solve and prosecute the murder of AJ Freund, 5, of Crystal Lake, in 2019.
“Through their exceptional dedication, they secured lengthy prison sentences for the perpetrators. Both Patrick and Randi continue to demonstrate their commitment to protecting children and supporting their families of McHenry County,” the state’s attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors said that AJ died at some point in the evening of April 14, 2019, after his mother, JoAnn Cunningham, had beaten him and placed him in a cold shower.
AJ was put to bed and later found dead, prosecutors said.
AJ’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., put AJ’s remains in a large plastic tote in the basement and days later buried them in a rural area outside of Woodstock.
Cunningham, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for the first-degree murder of AJ, filed a post-conviction petition last year saying that she had been seeing demons and believed she and her son were possessed at the time of the killing.
Andrew Freund Sr. was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to reduced charges.