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EDITORIAL: AJ was 5, and summer was coming on

Andrew "AJ" Freund | National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Hold your child close.

Be patient when he leaves his clothes on the bedroom floor.

Pick her up and hug her when she falls and cries.

Listen to the story of their day, laugh at their jokes, be happy for them.

The police on Wednesday found the body of little Andrew Freund — AJ, as he was called — in a shallow grave in a rural part of Woodstock, about 10 miles from his home in Crystal Lake.

He was 5 years old, and summer was coming on. He was supposed to go to kindergarten in the fall.

AJ’s parents have been charged with his murder, which should surprise nobody.

AJ had been born with opiates in his system, according to authorities. And there was the family’s long record of contact with state child-welfare workers.

People feared the worst when he went missing — we certainly did.

But a charge is a charge, not a conviction. And nobody knows — not yet — how and when and why AJ died. That will all come out.

Nobody knows, too, if DCFS did enough. If the agency, which said it plans to examine whether there were any “shortcomings” in this case, did all it could.

That, too, will come out.

To be honest, we’re just feeling sad, like you.

We study a photo of AJ, the one in which he’s wearing the Nike cap, and we think we see strain in that little face, behind the smile.

We hope we’re imagining that. We hope he was happy, at least on that day.

AJ’s days were so few.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

THE FREUND INVESTIGATION:

Missing boy, 5, lived in Crystal Lake home full of dog feces, records show

Family of missing Crystal Lake boy has lengthy history with DCFS: officials

FBI searching for missing 5-year-old from Crystal Lake