The parents of a missing 5-year-old boy have been charged with murder after their son was found buried in a shallow grave in a rural area of Illinois, police say.
The body of Andrew "AJ" Freund, who was reported missing April 18, was found covered in plastic and buried in Woodstock, Illinois, on Wednesday, Crystal Lake police Chief James Black said.
Police interviewed the boy's parents the night before after authorities had gathered evidence from cellphone data, they said. The couple then gave authorities information that led them to the boy's grave a few miles from their home in Crystal Lake, police said.
Parents Andrew "Drew" Freund Sr. and Joann Cunningham were charged with murder and a variety of other counts related to the boy's death and disappearance.
The couple forced their son to stand in a cold shower for an extended period of time and then beat him, according to court documents. An autopsy conducted Thursday determined the boy's cause of death was "craniocerebral trauma as a consequence of multiple blunt force injuries," according to the McHenry County Coroner's Office.
"To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer," the Crystal Lake Police Department said in a statement.
Police began looking for the child after the couple reported him missing April 18, saying they hadn't seen the boy since bedtime the night before. But authorities quickly ruled out kidnapping.
“This is not the outcome that we want to talk about … but it is the unfortunate result,” Jeffrey Sallet, who heads the FBI in northern Illinois, told reporters Wednesday.
The boy and his family were previously known to police, who had visited their house multiple times over the years, records released by the department show.
In one instance, police described the house covered in dog feces and urine, and in a child's room the "smell of feces was overwhelming." Another said the house was "cluttered, dirty and in disrepair."
AJ had also been born with opiates in his system in 2013, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been in contact with his family ever since.
AJ's brother was removed from the home and placed in DCFS care last week.
DCFS acting director Marc Smith called AJ’s death "heartbreaking."
"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," Smith said in a statement.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Parents of 5-year-old boy found in shallow grave allegedly beat him after long, cold shower