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Parents Accused Of Beating 5-Year-Old Son AJ Freund To Death Give Up Custody Of Other Child

JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund are accused of killing 5-year-old AJ Freund, whose body was found in a shallow grave in Illinois.

By Gina Tron
Body of Missing Illinois Child AJ Freund Found, Parents Charged

The Illinois parents accused of killing their 5-year-old son have agreed to give up temporary custody of their other son, and let the state's child welfare agency care for him.

Last week the body of Andrew "AJ" Freund was discovered in a shallow grave in a remote area of Woodstock, Illinois, days after his parents had reported him missing. Authorities quickly ruled out abduction as a possibility and began focusing their attention on those parents, JoAnn Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, ultimately charging each with five counts of murder after the boy's body was found.

A day after the grim discovery, prosecutors described the boy's violent end, saying he had been forced to sit in a cold shower before being beaten all over his body until he died.

Records released by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services revealed that the state’s welfare agency had multiple interactions with the family, starting in 2012 before the victim was even born. DCFS determined on several occasions that allegations of child mistreatment were "unfounded," raising questions about whether signs of abuse missed. 

A.J. Freund

Prosecutors have filed a petition to completely terminate the parents’ rights over their younger son, the Associated Press reports. A court-appointed advocate is scheduled to meet with the victim’s 4-year-old sibling to submit a report about his current state of well-being.

Permanent wardship will be determined in future court hearings as it has to be proven that the parents are unfit to care for the child. He was placed in a different home after AJ was reported missing, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Cunningham is also about seven months pregnant with another child.