Crime & Courts

Paternity results come back in juvenile case for AJ Freund's younger brother

Joann Cunningham (left) and Andrew Freund (right) each are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of their 5-year-old son AJ Freund.
Joann Cunningham (left) and Andrew Freund (right) each are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of their 5-year-old son AJ Freund.

A paternity test has confirmed that slain Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund and his younger brother have the same father.

Parents and accused killers Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham were present Monday afternoon for a juvenile court hearing regarding the custody of AJ’s younger brother. The boy has been in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services since 5-year-old AJ was reported missing April 18.

With Freund’s paternity confirmed, prosecutors with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office can move forward with their petition to terminate both Freund and Cunningham’s parental rights to their son.

The process is twofold. Prosecutors would first need to prove that both Freund and Cunningham are unfit parents. Examples of “unfit” as defined in the Illinois Adoption Act include parents with a history of extreme cruelty to a child, substantial neglect and convictions of first-degree murder.

The state must then show that it’s in the child’s best interest to terminate Freund and Cunningham’s parental rights.

A status date on the matter is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 8. Paternity results for Cunningham’s newborn daughter could be announced at a separate juvenile hearing that same day.

Earlier this month, McHenry County Judge Christopher Harmon ordered two men to submit paternity tests in an effort to identify who fathered the baby girl, born May 31.

Cunningham, Freund and another man, Daniel Nowicki, each was present at a shelter care hearing earlier this month to determine where Cunningham’s baby will be placed. Cunningham, who has been at the McHenry County Jail since April 24, agreed to keep the child in protective custody until paternity tests were complete.

She and Freund are charged with first-degree murder in connection with AJ’s death. They remained at the jail Monday on $5 million bonds each.

Nowicki was detained at the McHenry County Jail when AJ died. He and Cunningham previously were engaged to be married but no longer are in a relationship, he said.

Nowicki was released on probation May 22 in connection with separate aggravated battery charges tied to a Dec. 18 arrest.

Officers arrested him again June 12, however, after he reportedly violated conditions of his bond by testing positive for cocaine and failing to take all of his prescribed medications, court records show.

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