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(Chicago Tribune via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — Police believe an Illinois couple who reported their 5-year-old son missing last week killed him days earlier by beating him and forcing him to stand in a cold shower for an extended period of time, according to court documents released Thursday.

The allegations are included in a criminal complaint that outlines first-degree murder, aggravated battery and several other charges against Joann Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, in the death of Andrew “AJ” Freund. A judge on Thursday set bail at $5 million, meaning each parent would have to post 10%, or $500,000, to be released from jail.

An autopsy was scheduled for later Thursday to determine a cause of death and to confirm that the remains found a day earlier wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave are those of the child, as investigators believe.

Investigators say they found the body a few miles from the family’s Crystal Lake home based on information provided by Freund. Crystal Lake is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Chicago. The couple’s brief court appearance Thursday came exactly a week after Freund triggered a massive search on April 18 when he called 911 to report that the couple hadn’t seen their son since bedtime the night before. Police believe the boy was killed April 15, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities say the boy had lived in deplorable conditions.

“It is my hope that you may have some solace in knowing that AJ is no longer suffering and his killers have been brought to justice,” Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black told reporters Wednesday, in a statement directed at the child’s relatives.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Service had a long history with the family — including an investigation that was launched shortly after AJ was born when tests revealed there were opiates in his body that prompted the agency to place the boy in foster care for nearly two years.

Crystal Lake police also have repeatedly been called to the family’s house. Officers in police reports described finding filthy living conditions, broken windows, evidence of drug use and the overpowering smell of dog feces.

After AJ’s parents reported him missing, authorities immediately placed his younger brother in the custody of state welfare workers.

Lawyers from the McHenry County public defender’s office represented the parents during Thursday’s hearing, and it was unclear whether they had hired private attorneys. Judge Mark Gerhardt ordered the couple return to court for a preliminary hearing on Monday.

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6 thoughts on “Slain Illinois Boy Was Beaten, Put In Cold Shower

  1. TrUtH hUrTz on said:

    I hope the Mayor and or Govenor of their great city plan to send them a bill to pay for all the overtime the city had invested in looking for this child when the parents knowing lied about their child missing.
    If their going to bill Jussie Smollrt same should apply to them

  2. Phoenix Rising on said:

    White people always killing their kids. I’m surprised they didn’t blame a black man. Nothing but animals! And the mother…white women, worst stewards on the planet. They should have all their reproductive sh*t snatched out of their ratchet @ss bodies.

  3. African American Woman on said:

    I knew they did it as soon as this story broke. How in the hell do you beat a 5 year old to death? Why are people so fucking cruel? Every other day there’s a story about some animal hurting or killing a child. If your that much of a piece of shit that you can perpetuate violence on a child, drop the child off in a safe place. I hate people that hurt children with a passion.

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