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Bond set at $5M each for parents charged in murder of 5-year-old son

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Posted at 8:58 AM, Apr 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-25 11:58:46-04

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (ABC7) — Bond was set at $5 million each for the Crystal Lake parents charged with killing their son, 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund.

Andrew Freund Sr. and Joann Cunningham each face first degree murder charges as well as aggravated battery, and failure to report a child death charges.

Police allege AJ was forced into a cold shower for an extended period of time and struck before he died. An autopsy will be done Thursday to determine a cause of death.

Cunningham and Freund Sr. will each have to pay $500,000 to get out of jail. They will be arraigned on Monday, April 29.

On Wednesday, the 5-year-old's body was found wrapped in plastic, left in a shallow grave on a farm property in Woodstock.

Investigators with local, state and federal authorities found the body after the couple was confronted with cell phone evidence.

"Information was obtained from forensic analysis of cell phone data. Once presented with the evidence obtained by investigators, both Joann and Andrew Sr. provided information that ultimately led to recovery," said Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black.

As crews recovered the 5-year-old's body in the woods, evidence technicians removed clues from the family's home, including a child's mattress and a shovel.

Authorities have not yet said how AJ was killed or how long he was buried in the woods, but his autopsy will reveal what the poor child endured during his short life.

"It was apparent to me that nobody was going to sleep and nobody will sleep until justice is brought for AJ. This is the beginning of that process," said FBI Agent Jeffery Sallet at a Wednesday afternoon press conference announcing the charges.

ABC7 has also learned that the Freund family has a long history with local police, who responded to the home 17 times in five years for allegations of both abuse and drug use.

After AJ's parents were charged, Acting Director of DCFS Marc Smith released a statement saying,"After a nearly week-long search for missing Andrew "A.J." Freund, law enforcement officials today confirmed his death. This news is heartbreaking. Protecting vulnerable children who come to our attention is at the core of our mission at DCFS. All of us feel this loss. Our priority is the care and safety of Andrew's younger sibling. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation. The Department is committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the entirety of our work with Andrew's family to understand our shortcomings and to be fully transparent with the public on any steps we are taking to address the issues."

Story courtesy of ABC7.