A.J.Freund's Family Think He Made a 'Sacrifice to Save His Younger Brother and Unborn Sibling’

Aby Rivas
May 01, 2019
07:31 P.M.
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The foster family that once cared for Andrew “A.J” Freund, the little boy allegedly murdered by his birth parents in Crystal Lake, released a statement on the child’s tragic death remembering their time together as “happy, fun and loving.”


While JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, Sr.—A.J’s biological parents—remain in custody, the family that once cared for the little boy has released a joint statement with one of A.J’s biological grandmothers through Chicago-based attorney Peter Flowers.


The statement reads:

“We, the family that lovingly cared for Andrew (AJ) during the first 18 months of his life and were then allowed to be in his life for another 26 months until the parents abruptly prevented us from having any further contact with him, want everyone to know that AJ was loved by us with all our hearts.”


And continues:

“While we had him in our lives, he had a happy, fun-loving life. This smart little boy loved having books read to him, doing puzzles, his Thomas the Train, playing with his fire trucks, bulldozers, cement mixer, and Ninja Turtles. He was very curious and always wanted to learn about everything.”


On April 18, A.J’s father called 911 to report the boy as missing from his home in Crystal Lake. Less than one week later his body was found, wrapped in plastic, in a shallow grave in a remote area of Woodstock.

JoAnn and Andrew, who had been begging for the boy’s safe return on national television, were arrested and charged for the murder. They're being held on a $5 million bond each.


"His life shall not be in vain. AJ will always be our little superhero."

Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black explained that authorities obtained “forensic analysis of cell phone data,” and that when confronted with that evidence, both parents “provided information that ultimately led to the recovery” of A.J.’s body.

According to prosecutors, Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham, who is 7-months pregnant, forced their son to stand in a cold shower for an extended time, and repeatedly beat him.

Mugshots of JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. Photo: McHenry County Sheriff's Department


Coroner David Devane confirmed that the child had died of “craniocerebral trauma as a consequence of multiple blunt force injuries.”

A.J’s foster family added on their statement that “He was, and will always be, our loving and caring little boy.” And stated that “With his brave short life, AJ made the ultimate sacrifice to save his younger brother and unborn sibling. His life shall not be in vain.  AJ will always be our little superhero.”


Although the family didn’t give further explanation to what they meant by A.J sacrificing himself, it is believed that he and his little brother were subjected to domestic abuse and poor conditions at their parents’ house.

The couple has agreed to give up custody of their youngest son as they remain behind bars awaiting trial.


The 4-year-old boy was taken into Illinois Department of Children and Family Services custody after AJ’s April 18 disappearance, and now McHenry County prosecutors have filed a petition to cut Cunningham and Freund’s parental rights to the younger boy.

Freund and Cunningham appeared in criminal court last Monday for a preliminary hearing but did not enter pleas. They are scheduled to return to court on May 10.

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