A.J. Freund disappearance: Body of missing 5-year-old boy found in Illinois, parents charged with murder

The body of a 5-year-old boy who was reported missing from his Illinois home last week has been found, police say.

Remains believed to belong to Andrew "A.J." Freund were discovered wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave in a Woodstock, Ill., field on Wednesday, Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black said during a press conference.

Both of A.J.'s parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, are being charged with five counts of first-degree murder, as well as battery and failure to report a missing child, in their son's disappearance and death, according to Black.

The break in the case came after Cunningham and Freund allegedly provided police with information that led them to A.J.'s body. The boy's exact cause of death remains unknown, pending an autopsy. 

26 PHOTOS
Missing Illinois boy A.J. Freund found dead, parents charged
See Gallery
Missing Illinois boy A.J. Freund found dead, parents charged
This combination April 24, 2019 booking photos provided by the Crystal Lake, Ill., Police Department shows JoAnn Cunningham and her husband, Andrew Freund Sr. On Wednesday, authorities dug up the body of a 5-year-old boy, believed to be Andrew "AJ" Freund, who was reported missing the previous week and charged his parents with murder and other counts. (Crystal Lake Police Department via AP)
McHenry County Sheriff's officers and other law enforcement search the area of Route 176 and Dean Street south of Woodstock, Ill., for clues in the disappearance of 5-year-old missing boy Andrew "AJ" Freund, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)
McHenry County Sheriff's officers and other law enforcement search the area of Route 176 and Dean Street with a drone south of Woodstock, Ill., for clues in the disappearance of 5-year-old missing boy Andrew "AJ" Freund, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)
McHenry County Sheriff's officers and other law enforcement search the area of Route 176 and Dean Street south of Woodstock, Ill.,, for clues in the disappearance of 5-year-old missing boy Andrew "AJ" Freund, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)
McHenry County Sheriff's officer search the area of Route 176 and Dean Street south of Woodstock, Ill., for clues in the disappearance of 5-year-old missing boy Andrew "AJ" Freund, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)
Crystal Lake, Ill., Police Chief James Black, left, and FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Sallet announce during a press conference Wednesday that the parents of Andrew "AJ" Freund are responsible for his death, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)
FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Sallet speaks during a Crystal Lake, Ill. press conference Wednesday, April 24, 2019 about the parents of Andrew "AJ" Freund being charged for his death. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)
In this April 24, 2019 booking photo provided by the Crystal Lake Police Department of Joann Cunningham who along with her husband Andrew Freund Sr. have been charged with murder and other charges in the death of their missing son Andrew "AJ" Freund. Authorities say they have found what they believe is the body of the 5-year-old boy who went missing last week. Crystal Lake police Chief James Black said at a news conference Wednesday that police dug up what they believe is Freund's body in a field and that it was wrapped in plastic. (Crystal Lake Police Department via AP)
In this April 24, 2019 is a booking photo provided by the Crystal Lake Police Department of Andrew Freund Sr, who along with his wife Joann Cunningham, have been charged with murder and other charges in the death of their missing son Andrew "AJ" Freund. Authorities say they have found what they believe is the body of the 5-year-old boy who went missing last week. Crystal Lake police Chief James Black said at a news conference Wednesday that police dug up what they believe is Freund's body in a field and that it was wrapped in plastic. (Crystal Lake Police Department via AP)
Long time Crystal Lake resident Danielle Hein, left, wipes away tears after sitting in a press conference at the Crystal Lake village hall where officials announced charges against the parents of Andrew "AJ" Freund for his death, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)
Police search outside the home of missing 5-year-old boy Andrew "AJ" Freund on the 0-100 block of Dole Ave. in Crystal Lake, Ill. on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)
Police remove items from the home of missing 5-year-old boy Andrew "AJ" Freund on the 0-100 block of Dole Ave. in Crystal Lake, Ill. on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)
Andrew Freund Sr., the father of the missing 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund, walks near his home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake, Ill. on Friday, April 19, 2019 as members of the media try to speak with him. Police are investigating the boy's disappearance and are focusing their attention on the boy's home. (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)
A makeshift memorial grows Monday, April 22, 2019 outside the Dole Avenue home of Andrew "AJ" Freund, age 5, in Crystal Lake, Ill. Police and the FBI continue their investigation into the missing boy. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)
In this Wednesday, April 24, 2019 photo, community members in Crystal lake, Ill., hold a vigil in memory of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund. Authorities searching for the missing Illinois boy who had lived in deplorable conditions dug up his body Wednesday and charged his parents with murder, sadly declaring that the youngster would "no longer have to suffer." (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)
In this Wednesday, April 24, 2019 photo, community members in Crystal lake, Ill., hold a vigil in memory of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund. Authorities searching for the missing Illinois boy who had lived in deplorable conditions dug up his body Wednesday and charged his parents with murder, sadly declaring that the youngster would "no longer have to suffer." (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)
Mourners view a growing memorial outside the home of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Crystal Lake, Ill. Andrew's body was found in a wooded area Wednesday morning, and the boy's parents have been charged with his murder. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CRYSTAL LAKE, ILLINOIS - APRIL 24: Angela Krambeer and her son Dylan sign a cross at a memorial outside the home of five-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund on April 24, 2019 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The remains of Freund, who was reported missing by his parents last week, were found in a shallow grave earlier today near Woodstock, Illinois. His parents Andrew Freund Sr. and Joanna Cunningham have been charged with his murder. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CRYSTAL LAKE, ILLINOIS - APRIL 24: Family, friends, neighbors, and other mourners gather for a vigil outside the home of five-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund on April 24, 2019 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The remains of Freund, who was reported missing by his parents last week, were found in a shallow grave earlier today near Woodstock, Illinois. His parents Andrew Freund Sr. and Joanna Cunningham have been charged with his murder. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CRYSTAL LAKE, ILLINOIS - APRIL 24: Family, friends, neighbors, and other mourners gather for a vigil outside the home of five-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund on April 24, 2019 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The remains of Freund, who was reported missing by his parents last week, were found in a shallow grave earlier today near Woodstock, Illinois. His parents Andrew Freund Sr. and Joanna Cunningham have been charged with his murder. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CRYSTAL LAKE, ILLINOIS - APRIL 24: Family, friends, neighbors, and other mourners gather for a vigil outside the home of five-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund on April 24, 2019 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The remains of Freund, who was reported missing by his parents last week, were found in a shallow grave earlier today near Woodstock, Illinois. His parents Andrew Freund Sr. and Joanna Cunningham have been charged with his murder. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Police have a vehicle towed from the driveway of missing 5-year-old boy Andrew "AJ" Freund on the 0-100 block of Dole Ave. in Crystal Lake, Ill. on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Police continue to investigate the disappearance of the child. (Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP)
Mourners gather outside the home of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Crystal Lake, Ill. Andrew's body was found in a wooded area Wednesday morning, and the boy's parents have been charged with his murder. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
In this Wednesday, April 24, 2019 photo, community members in Crystal lake, Ill. hold a vigil in memory of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund. Authorities searching for the missing Illinois boy who had lived in deplorable conditions dug up his body Wednesday and charged his parents with murder, sadly declaring that the youngster would "no longer have to suffer." (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)
In this Wednesday, April 24, 2019 photo, community members in Crystal lake, Ill. hold a vigil in memory of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund. Authorities searching for the missing Illinois boy who had lived in deplorable conditions dug up his body Wednesday and charged his parents with murder, sadly declaring that the youngster would "no longer have to suffer." (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)
In this Wednesday, April 24, 2019 photo, community members in Crystal lake, Ill. hold a vigil in memory of 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund. Authorities searching for the missing Illinois boy who had lived in deplorable conditions dug up his body Wednesday and charged his parents with murder, sadly declaring that the youngster would "no longer have to suffer." (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

A.J. was first reported missing by his parents on the morning of April 18 from their home in Crystal Lake, approximately 50 miles northwest of Chicago. The pair said they had last seen their son around 9 p.m. the night before.

Hundreds of acres of land were scoured during a search by 15 responding police agencies, canine units, drones and even a sonar team, which was deployed to scan areas of Crystal Lake.

While no signs of A.J. were discovered during the manhunt, police said K-9 teams did pick up the boy's scent in the trunk of his parents' car, CBS News reports.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said it has "been involved" with the family since A.J.'s birth, department spokesman Jassen Strokosch told CNN. Strokosch said that the child "was brought into care with us" when "neglect was indicated on part of the mom." 

A.J. remained "in care with someone else" from 2013 through 2015, when he was returned to his parents. Strokosch said that the DCFS was called to the family's home twice in 2018 on allegations of neglect in March and of abuse and neglect in December, although both sets of accusations were determined to be unfounded.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.