Illinois agency’s timeline of interactions with slain boy
Illinois parents are facing murder charges in the beating death of their son, 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund, whose body was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave. The family previously had interaction with state child welfare workers. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on Friday released the following timeline of the agency’s interaction with Joann Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60.
June 7, 2012: DCFS receives a hotline call alleging Cunningham was abusing prescription drugs and neglecting her foster child. The report was unfounded and expunged.
Dec. 24, 2012: DCFS receives a hotline call alleging Cunningham’s oldest son is neglected and she is abusing prescription drugs and has mental health issues. The report was unfounded and expunged.
Oct. 14, 2013: Cunningham gives birth to Andrew “AJ” Freund.
Oct. 16, 2013: Cunningham and AJ test positive for opiates and benzodiazepines. The boy is removed from his mother’s care.
Nov. 12, 2013: DCFS takes protective custody of AJ.
Nov. 14, 2013: DCFS is granted temporary custody of AJ in juvenile court. The Youth Service Bureau of Illinois is assigned to provide services to the family. Cunningham and Freund participate in a drug treatment program.
June 2015: Judge orders AJ returned to Cunningham.
June 2015 to April 2016: Youth Service Bureau worker makes 17 unannounced and nine scheduled visits to the parents’ home. The worker does not observe signs of abuse or neglect.
Aug. 28, 2015: Worker is informed the father’s drug test was invalid.
April 2016: AJ’s juvenile court case is closed.
March 21, 2018: DCFS receives a hotline report alleging Cunningham was brought to the emergency room after being found unresponsive in a car. He was observed at the hospital to have odd bruising on his face. DCFS worker makes unsuccessful attempts to see the children March 21, March 29 and April 9, 2018.
April 25, 2018: DCFS investigator meets with Cunningham, AJ and his younger brother. Cunningham was interviewed while the boys played outside. DCFS investigator finds the boys to be clean and no signs of maltreatment.
May 17, 2018: DCFS investigator completes final home safety assessment. Both boys are found to be clean and dressed appropriately. Cunningham reports a history of drug use and current drug treatment. The home is found to be clean, neat and adequately furnished.
May 18, 2018: DCFS investigator verifies Cunningham’s participation in a drug treatment program. The report from March 2018 was unfounded and the investigation closed.
Dec. 18, 2018: Both boys are taken into protective custody and Cunningham is arrested for driving on a suspended license. Police find a large bruise on AJ’s hip and find the ceiling falling, the floor torn and the children’s bedroom smelling of dog urine.
Younger brother won’t engage with a DCFS investigator. The child appears to be healthy and well cared for. AJ is interviewed and says he was bruised when the family dog pawed him.
DCFS investigator interviews Cunningham, who admits to dog feces and urine were in the home but says they were remodeling. Andrew Freund Sr. bonds Cunningham out and she requests to be tested for drugs. DCFS investigator ends protective custody and children are returned home.
DCFS investigator asks Cunningham to take AJ for medical care and an emergency room physician examines the boy. The doctor couldn’t say what caused the boy’s injury but was concerned because AJ said “maybe someone hit me with a belt. Maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me.”
DCFS investigator contacts Freund to pick the children up from hospital until the home environment can be assessed. The father was asked to remain in the home as a safety precaution.
Dec. 19, 2018: DCFS investigator conducts unannounced home visit and finds living room and dining room cluttered with clothes and toys. The kitchen was clean and the floor was missing tiles. The ceiling was not falling and investigator sensed a slight odor of dog urine. No feces or urine was observed on the floor. Andrew Freund Sr. denies corporal punishment and denies Cunningham used drugs.
Dec. 20, 2018: DCFS investigator spoke with the past DCFS investigator regarding her case and findings.
Jan. 4, 2019: DCFS unfounded the report due to lack of evidence for cuts, welt and bruises allegation.
April 18, 2019: Cunningham and Freund report Andrew missing. DCFS receives hotline report alleging neglect and inadequate supervision. Police find the home has ripped up floors, food lying around and clothes and garbage everywhere. The young brother is taken into protective custody and placed with a foster parent. He appears healthy and shows no obvious signs of abuse or neglect.
April 24, 2019: Police find AJ’s body. They arrest Cunningham and Freund on murder counts and other charges related to his death.
Source: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services