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

Andrew "AJ" Freund | Crystal Lake police

Newly released records on Tuesday shed light on the squalid conditions in the home where a 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy lived before he was reported missing as officials continued to search for the boy using planes, boats and crews on the ground.

Police released more than 60 pages of records detailing five years of calls to the home of Andrew “AJ” Freund, who has been missing since last week. The reports show police were concerned about the family’s living conditions since at least September.

Police also released a recording of the father’s call to 911, which was made at 9:04 a.m. on April 18. On the call, Andrew Freund Sr., in a calm voice, can be heard telling a police dispatcher that he could not find his son that morning.

“We have a missing child,” Freund tells the dispatcher before trailing off.

Freund says he last saw Andrew about 9:30 p.m. the night before when he was going to bed. He said he had canvassed the neighborhood, including going to a nearby park and gas station where he would sometimes buy his son treats, before calling the report in.

“I have no idea where he would be,” Freund said.

The father goes on to say that he got home from a doctor’s appointment between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. and went to check on Andrew and wake him up, but he was not in his room or in the home. He tells the dispatcher that none of the home’s doors or windows were open.

The call ends when a police officer arrives at the home in the first block of Dole Avenue.

Mom arrested day of disappearance

Police records show that Andrew’s mother, Joanne Cunningham, was arrested the same day her son was reported missing on a McHenry County warrant charging her with failing to appear in court on a driving with a suspended license charge.

The arrest stemmed from a December incident when she drove to a Taco Bell to see if someone could call police for her in order to file a burglary report. Cunningham told officers that responded that she believed someone had stolen her phone and medications.

When Cunningham returned to her home with the officers, they asked to look inside and found the dwelling to be “cluttered, dirty and in disrepair,” according to a police report. The officers were concerned about living conditions at the home, noting dog feces and urine throughout the house and broken windows.

The records also noted that portions of the kitchen floor were “jagged and broken off,” the kitchen ceiling appeared to have water damage and several windows were left open.

“Upstairs in the room where the boys slept the window was open and the smell of feces was overwhelming,” an officer wrote.

Boy’s hip bruised

The officers also noticed a “large bruise” on the right hip of one of the boys and reported the injury to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which had been in contact with the family multiple times since 2013 when Andrew was born with opiates in his system. The boy told officers the bruise was from the family dog jumping on him. An investigator was ultimately unable to determine the cause of the bruise.

Police investigated the mom’s theft claims but records show they were unable to verify them. They later arrested her on driving with a suspended license. She was released and allowed to return home with her children.

Living without power

Three months earlier, records show, police had been called to the home to do a wellbeing check after someone reported that family had been living without power for weeks. An officer was denied entry by Cunningham, but saw both children, who “appeared happy and healthy,” according to a police report.

Cunningham was unable to tell the officer how long the power had been out, but said she had been staying elsewhere at times, including at a hotel in Woodstock. The report noted peeling paint on the home and that the “windows also seemed to be falling apart.”

The officers reported their findings to DCFS, but were told by the agency that a caseworker would not come out to check for utility issues, according to police records.

Police also came to the home in 2014, when a woman at the house called to say she suspected tenants living in the basement were using heroin. The caller said a syringe was found on the kitchen floor. Police told her to seek eviction proceedings.

Search continues

The record release came as police continued to search for the boy in Lippold Park in Crystal Lake and beyond.

Some 40 people were involved in the search, which included the Illinois State Police, which used small aircraft and sonar teams in boats to scan “several ponds and smaller bodies of water” in the area, Crystal Lake Police Deputy Chief Tom Kotlowski said in a statement.

Police said previously that they do not believe the boy was abducted and said they had no evidence he walked out of the home. They said Cunningham was being “uncooperative” with investigators. Her attorneys said they told her to stop answering questions after police started to treat her as a suspect.

Kotlowski on Tuesday denied the lawyers’ claims, saying: “We do not have her listed as a suspect, we do not currently have any suspects in this case.”

Andrew “AJ” Freund. | National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Andrew “AJ” Freund | National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Andrew is described as a 3-foot-5, 70-pound boy with short, blond hair. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt, black sweatpants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shoes.

Meanwhile, a custody hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock regarding Cunningham’s 3-year-old son, who has been taken into protective custody by DCFS, was reportedly continued.