Morbidology the Podcast – 114: AJ Freund

Podcast released on: 23rd August 2021

In April of 2019, police in the Chicago Suburb of Crystal Lake were informed of a missing five-year-old boy. According to his parents, he had vanished at some point in the middle of the night. However, it quickly became apparent that the family were well-known to child protective services and for many years, police had…

In April of 2019, police in the Chicago Suburb of Crystal Lake were informed of a missing five-year-old boy. According to his parents, he had vanished at some point in the middle of the night. However, it quickly became apparent that the family were well-known to child protective services and for many years, police had been trying to get them to take action and remove the children from the home. Their pleas had always fallen on deaf ears and child protective services had refused to intervene. The disappearance and outcome of the disappearance would lead to the community questioning: How could this happen and why was this allowed to happen?


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Audio Sources:

“Crystal Lake police Andrew Freund missing child 911 call”

“JoAnn Cunningham tearfully addresses court at sentencing for son’s murder”

“ONLY ON 2: JoAnn Cunningham, Mother Of A.J. Freund, Speaks Out”

“JoAnn Cunningham Facing Up To 60 Years In Prison For Murder Of 5-Year-Old A.J. Fruend”

“Mother of missing 5-year-old boy ‘uncooperative’ with investigators”

“AJ Freund’s Mother Joann Cunningham Nearly Unrecognizable in Court Appearance | NBC Chicago

“‘I Would Give My Life To Have A.J. Back;’ JoAnn Cunningham Tearfully Begs For Mercy”

“Police, ER Dr and Forensic Pathologist at Joann Cunningham Sentencing by Patrick Kenneally”


Associated Press, 19 April, 2019 – “Search for 5-Year-Old Crystal Lake Boy Focused on Residence”

Daily Herald, 19 April, 2019 – “FBI Helping Search for 5-Year-Old Boy”

Independent – 9 WGN, 19 April, 2019 – “No Indication Missing Crystal Lake Boy was Abducted”

The Northwest Herald, 19 April, 2019 – “Crystal Lake Police, FBI Continue Search for Missing 5-Year-Old”

Chicago Sun-Times, 19 April, 2019 – “Missing Crystal Lake Boy Didn’t Leave Home on Foot”

Associated Press, 20 April, 2019 – “DCFS Says It’s Had Earlier Contact with Missing Boy’s Family”

The Daily Chronicle, 20 April, 2019 – “DCFS Takes Custody of Younger Son of Crystal Lake Woman”

Daily Herald, 20 April, 2019 – “Police Focus Investigation on Missing Crystal Lake Boy’s House”

Kane County Chronicle, 21 April, 2019 – “Father of Missing Crystal Lake Boy Leaves Home with Police”

Kane County Chronicle, 23 April, 2019 – “Mother of Missing Crystal Lake 5-Year-Old Trying to Regain Custody”

Associated Press, 23 April, 2019 – “Police Sent to Home of Missing Boy Several Times”

The Recorder, 22 April, 2019 – “Mother of Missing Boy Describes Son as Super Sharp and Smart”

Associated Press, 24 April, 2019 – “Police Remove Shovel, Other Items from Missing Boy’s Home”

Associated Press, 24 April, 2019 – “Missing Boy’s Body was Buried in Shallow Grave”

Addison Suburban Life, 24 April, 2019 – “Police Called to Freund’s Crystal Lake House Multiple Times”

Chicago Sun-Times, 24 April, 2019 – “State Investigates Handling of AJ Freund Case After Boy Found Dead”

FOX – 6 WITI, 24 April, 2019 – “Playing in Heaven’s Playground”

Associated Press, 25 April, 2019 – “Slain Illinois Boy was Beaten, Put in Cold Shower”

Associated Press, 25 April, 2019 – “Illinois Child Welfare System Under Fire After Boy’s Death”

Daily Herald, 25 April, 2019 – “We Already Know He’s In Heaven”

Daily Herald, 25 April, 2019 – “Dad, Mom Directed Authorities to Field”

ABC – 8 WQAD, 26 April, 2019 – “Director of Illinois DCFS Addresses the Death of AJ Freund”

Associated Press, 26 April, 2019 – “Illinois Agency’s Timeline of Interactions with Slain Boy”

CBS – 19 WHNT, 26 April, 2019 – “AN Absolute Horrific Sound”

Chicago Sun-Times, 26 April, 2019 – “AJ Freund’s Dad Had Been Ordered to Undergo Drug Treatment”

Kane County Chronicle, 27 April, 2019 – “Public Visitation Date for AJ Set”

Daily Herald, 28 April, 2019 – “DCFS is Afraid of Getting Sued”

Associated Press, 29 April, 2019 – “Prosecutors Try to Revoke Parental Rights in Illinois Case”

Chicago Sun- Times, 30 April, 2019 – “AJ Freund’s Mom Destroyed Our Home”

Daily Herald, 30 April, 2019 – “Prosecutors Work to Strip Parental Rights”

The Herald News, 30 April, 2019 – “AJ Was Loved by us With all our Hearts”

ABC – 16 WNEP, 2 May, 2019 – “Newly Released Documents Reveal Graphic Details”

Addison Suburban Life, 2 May, 2019 – “Report Details 5-Year-Old’s Death Abuse”

The Daily Chronicle, 3 May, 2019 – “Crystal Lake Police Report Describes Day 1 of AJ Freund Investigation”

Kane County Chronicle, 3 May, 2019 – “Hundreds Line up to Attend AJ Freund Visitation in Crystal Lake”

The Daily Chronicle, 4 May, 2019 – “It’s Heartbreaking”

Daily Herald, 4 May, 2019 – “Community Says Goodbye to AJ Freund at Packed Visitation”

Associated Press, 7 May, 2019 – “Bill Would Require Follow Up on Child Welfare”

CBS – 7 WHIO, 10 May, 2019 – “AJ Freund’s Parents Indicted in 5-Year-Old’s Beating”

Arlington Heights Post, 27 June, 2019 – “AJ DCFS Investigator Faced Prior Discipline”

Daily Herald, 9 July, 2019 – “AJ’s Estate Considering Lawsuit Against DCFS”

Daily Herald, 27 September, 2019 – “In TV Interview at Jail, Mom Denies Killing AJ”

Daily Herald, 14 October, 2019 – “Birthday Gathering for AJ”

Lake County News-Sun, 25 October, 2019 – “Crystal Lake Case Charges Reviewed”

Associated Press, 5 December, 2019 – “Illinois Mother Pleads Guilty”

Daily Herald, 14 December, 2019 – “AJ Freund’s DCFS Caseworker, Supervisor Fired”

Daily Herald, 18 December, 2019 – “Death of AJ Freund”

Barrington Courier-Review, 19 December, 2019 – “Mother Knew all This Evidence Against Her”

Daily Herald, 5 March, 2020 – “It Needs a New Beginning”

The Herald News, 21 May, 2020 – “Child Endangerment Charges Against DCFS Staff

ABC – 2 WSB, 16 July, 2020 – “Details of Boy’s Beating”

Associated Press, 16 July, 2020 – “Ill. Woman Who Killed 5-Year-Old Son Begs for Mercy”

ABC – 2 WSB, 17 July, 2020 – “AJ Freund’s Mother Sentenced to 35 Years”

ABC – 9 WFTV, 18 September, 2020 – “Plea Deal”

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