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Crystal Lake police: Mother of missing 5-year-old boy not cooperating with police as search continues

The mother of missing 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund is not cooperating with police as the search for the boy continues. 

Crystal Lake police said in a news release Monday morning that Freund’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, remained uncooperative while the boy’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., spoke with police detectives on Saturday afternoon.

“Investigators are continuing to review evidence, leads, and tips as they become available. There has been no arrest in this case at this time,” Crystal Lake police said in the news release. 

About 10:30 a.m. Monday, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were interviewing neighbors in the first block of Dole Avenue. Andrew Freund Sr. entered the home about 3:30 p.m. Monday and declined to comment.

On Monday evening, Crystal Lake police and the McHenry County Emergency Management Agency were set to look through areas of Lippold Park, on Route 176 in Crystal Lake, for Andrew. The search was called off because of the weather, Emergency Management Assistance Team coordinator Dave Christensen said.

One of Cunningham’s attorneys, George Kililis, denied the accusation Monday that his client was not cooperating with police, noting that Cunningham has met with police for more than 10 hours since her son’s disappearance, and complied with warrants to search her house and phone, as well as collect samples of her DNA.

If it’s a confession police want, however, they won’t be getting one from Cunningham, Kililis said.

“At some point the police, for whatever reason, started treating her as a suspect,” Kililis said. “Yes, we’re not cooperating with that, but that’s not the same thing.”

Authorities do not believe the boy was abducted. Police K-9 teams picked up Andrew’s scent only within the house, indicating that the boy had not walked away on foot, police said.

Andrew was reported missing Thursday morning by his parents. Police are continuing to work on the case with the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has had contact with Freund’s family since he was born in 2013 with opiates in his system and amid neglect allegations against his mother, DCFS Deputy Communications Director Jassen Strokosch confirmed Friday evening.

Andrew was taken into DCFS custody in November 2013, a timeline provided by DCFS shows. The agency has had contact with the family on and off until late last year, Strokosch said.

Cunningham is trying to regain custody of her younger son, Parker, who was taken in to DCFS custody Thursday, her attorney said.

Neighbor Kelly Haussman said she’s “very upset” by the case.

“The FBI interviewed us Friday night and it was really sad. [The agent] actually said, ‘This is a child who probably isn’t used to a lot of people,’ ” she said. “This is so upsetting.”

Haussman said she’s afraid the child won’t be found alive.

“I walked by that house a million times, and I’ve said, ‘Hi’ to [Andrew Sr.], and he’s never said, ‘Hi’ back,” she said. “I’ve never seen the kids.”

Lupe Mercado said she prayed for Andrew over the weekend at her church. She placed a candle outside his house Monday afternoon.

“I’m hoping that something happens and he comes home and is not bruised or hurt, but the story’s just not adding up,” Mercado said, adding that she’s a mother of five young children. “It’s very sad. We’re just going to continue praying and hope he comes home.”

Anyone with information can call Crystal Lake police at 815-356-3620. Anonymous tips can be submitted by texting “CLPDTIP,” along with the tip information, to 847411. Police also are looking for Ring video doorbell footage from 7 a.m. April 15 through 9 a.m. Thursday. Videos can be sent to jmattson@crystallake.org. Call 815-356-3608 with questions. 

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