Ill. Boy, 5, Vanished Last Week — and Police Focus Search on Home After Parents Stop Cooperating

KC Baker
Phone Search History Integral in Arrest of A.J. Freund's Parents

A desperate search for a missing 5-year-old Illinois boy continues as investigators turn their attention to the home where the child was last seen, say authorities.

Andrew Freund Sr. and Joanne Cunningham of Crystal Lake said they last saw their son, Andrew “A.J.” Freund, on Wednesday night at about 9 p.m. when he went to bed, the Crystal Lake Police Department announced in a press release Thursday. They reported him missing the next morning when, they say, they woke up and couldn’t find him.

The Crystal Lake Police Department launched a massive search for the child, calling in 15 other police agencies and using canine units, boats, and drones to search for the boy, Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black said, the Lake and McHenry County Scanner reports.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children are also helping in the investigation.

Unable to locate the boy, in recent days, authorities have begun focusing their attention on the family’s home, police say in the release.

Search and rescue canine teams found no evidence that the boy had ever left the home, CBS News and CBS 2 Chicago report.

Search and rescue dogs did, however, pick up the boy’s scent in the trunk of his parents’ car, CBS News reports.

“As of today’s date, JoAnn Cunningham, the boy’s mother, continues to be uncooperative with police,” the release says.

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On Friday, the boy’s father spoke to reporters and delivered a message to his son, saying, “A.J., please come home,” the Scanner reports. He added, “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”

But while the boy’s father spoke to detectives on Saturday, he has since stopped cooperating, police say.

“The fact that both parents have stopped cooperating with us certainly raises our suspicions,” Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black told the Tribune Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE that it has been dealing with the boy’s parents since his birth because he was born with opiates in his system.

On Friday, DCFS released a statement saying, “The department’s involvement with Andrew Freund began with his birth in 2013 and continued on and off through the end of 2018.”

Cunningham, who is 7 months pregnant, retained an attorney on Thursday who told her not to speak to police any longer, CBS News and the Tribune report.

“Ms. Cunningham doesn’t know what happened to A.J., and had nothing to do with the disappearance of A.J.,” her attorney George Kililis said, the Tribune and CBS report.

No arrests have been made in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620.