Mom of 5-Year-Old A.J. Tearfully Pleaded for Son's Safe Return Before Being Accused of His Death

Odette Odendaal
Apr 26, 2019
06:39 P.M.

Andrew "AJ" Freund’s parents, JoAnne and Andrew Sr. got arrested for his murder mere days after they tearfully pleaded for his safe return during interviews.


Andrew Sr. called 911 and reported his son missing on April 18. Police scoured the area and could find no sign that Andrew got abducted.

Sniffer dogs could find no scent of Andrew outside of the home, which indicated to the police that he didn’t leave on foot.

Authorities shifted their focus to the home as the crime scene, all the while his parents pleaded for his safe return.


Over the weekend JoAnne, who is reportedly 7 months pregnant, spoke exclusively to Good Morning America and cried woefully as she said, "I want us home together. I just want my kid. My kids are my life. They're my kids.”

The couple’s other younger son, Parker had since been placed in a different home under a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) safety plan, according to a DCFS spokesman who spoke with ABC News.

A few hours before a prayer vigil got held for AJ on Saturday, Andrew Sr. spoke with local reporters about his son. “A.J., please come home,” he said. “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”


AJ’s father told ABC7 that he is searching for his son on his own, while also cooperating with authorities. "Just going to retrace search steps that we have already gone over. There is nothing else we can do. The Crystal Lake Police and the FBI are doing a wonderful job. We are all just doing everything that we can at this point."

On Wednesday, police found AJ’s body wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in Woodstock, roughly seven miles away from his Crystal Lake home.

Police confronted them with evidence obtained from “forensic analysis of cell phone data,” after which both parents “provided information that ultimately led to the recovery” of AJ’s body.

Both AJ’s parents got arrested on Wednesday and Illinois prosecutors allege that they killed and buried AJ three days before JoAnne reported him missing, CBS Chicago reported.


The couple appeared in court on Thursday and bond got set at $5 million each. Charges include aggravated battery, failure to report a missing child, and first-degree murder.

Shocking details of what happened behind closed doors are beginning to emerge. During JoAnne and Jeremy Sr.’s appearance in court on Thursday, prosecutors alleged that the couple made AJ take a cold shower for a long time and then beat him before he died.


Cause of death will be determined after an autopsy is performed, which got scheduled for Thursday. The couple is set to be arraigned on April 29.

The Freund’s have a long history with DCFS and their children had been taken away before due to safety concerns, having visited the Freund’s home 17 times over the last five years.

Neighbors, who chose to stay anonymous, spoke with ABC7 after the couple’s arrest. They told the network that Chicago police have visited the couple’s home a few times on a monthly basis. Yelling could often be heard coming from the house and some of their neighbors have previously called authorities to request welfare checks on the two children.

In a similar tragic case, police also found the body of Jonathon Minard, the 14-year-old Ohio boy who went missing on April 13. Police found his body buried in a shallow grave in northeast Ohio last Friday.

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