A Crystal Lake mother now charged with first-degree murder of her son, 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund, was once a beautiful woman before “the drugs took hold,” according to her ex-husband.
Craig Summerkamp and JoAnn Cunningham were married in May 2009. The couple shared no children and their relationship ended after Summerkamp filed for divorce in January 2012, Daily Mail reports.
While they were together, Summerkamp said Cunningham started complaining of body aches and got a prescription from a doctor to address the pain. Shortly after, his relationship with Cunningham started to sour, Summerkamp said.
“Our marriage started off well and it was like a switch flipped in her head,” he said. “She was a decent person, but then she got hooked on pills and it all went downhill super fast.”
During their divorce proceedings, Cunningham became romantically involved with Andrew Freund, Sr. after he tried to console her in a Woodstock courthouse, Summerkamp says. Freund also became her lawyer, records show.
“She was out in the hallway moping and crying, and he […] went over and started talking to her. The next thing I knew he was her lawyer and it developed into whatever relationship they had,” Summerkamp said.
As part of their divorce, Summerkamp agreed to Cunningham staying in their once-shared home in McHenry. Freund also began to live in the home, Summerkamp said. According to accounts from police and others, the house smelled of dog feces and urine, had major bug and mold problems and appeared to have fires in several kitchen appliances.
Freund and Cunningham had two children together. One was AJ, who on April 18 was reported missing by his father. One week later, the boy was found in a shallow grave. An autopsy report showed the 5 year old died from blows to the head.
“I knew she wasn’t all there in the head but I never thought she would go this far,” Summerkamp told the Daily Mail.
AJ’s family has released a statement to counter narratives that his life was full of tragedy — starting from the day he was born with opiates in his system, to living in filfth at his final home in Crystal Lake and enduring possible abuse, to allegedly being killed by his own parents. The statement read, in part:
“We, the family that lovingly cared for Andrew (AJ) during the first 18 months of his life […] want everyone to know that AJ was loved by us with all our hearts. […] He was, and will always be, our loving and caring little boy.”
Cunningham is charged with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing child or child death. Freund, Sr. is also charged with five counts of first-degree murder, in addition to two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealment of a homicidal death and one count of failure to report a missing child or child death.
Cunningham is seven months pregnant, according to AJ’s foster family. The foster family said the little boy’s death could mean a fighting chance for his siblings.
“With his brave short life, AJ made the ultimate sacrifice to save his younger brother and unborn sibling,” the statement read. “His life shall not be in vain. AJ will always be our little superhero.”
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- New DCFS timeline of AJ Freund case: ‘Maybe someone hit me with a belt’