The mother of Andrew "AJ" Freund, the 5-year-old Illinois boy found dead in a shallow grave last week, had cellphone footage of the child which revealed bruises from a previous alleged beating.
Freund’s tiny body was discovered 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 “Drew” Freund Sr., 60, ultimately charging each with five counts of murder after the boy's body was found. Prosecutors say he was forced to sit in a frigid shower before being beaten all over his body until he died.
The fatal punishment came after the parents became irate that the boy lied about soiling himself, according to a sworn statement by McHenry County Sheriff’s Det. Edwin Maldonado that was included in a request for a search warrant on April 24. That document was obtained by the Chicago Tribune this week. Oxygen.com tried to obtain the document Thursday morning, but by that time it had been sealed by court order, according to the McHenry County Circuit Court.
According to that document, Cunningham also possessed cellphone video that revealed bruises all over the boy’s body from previous abuse.
The two-minute long video was taken about a month before AJ’s death and it allegedly shows him with extensive bruising all over his face and body, the Chicago Tribune reports. That footage apparently helped lead to her arrest.
In the clip, a bruised AJ is reportedly berated by his mother for wetting his bed, according to the report. He was lying on a bare mattress “naked except for some small bandages around both wrists and circling his hips,” the document states, according to People, which also obtained the files.
“A.J. is seen to be holding an ice pack to his face and when he removes it he is seen to have deep red bruising around his eyes, and yellowish-green bruising around his neck and upper chest," the document states, adding, "it did not appear from the video that A.J. received professional medical attention.”
Both parents are being held on $5 million bond.
Records released by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and obtained by Oxygen.com revealed that the parents had been previously accused of neglect and abuse, but each time the agency found the claims to be “unfounded,” raising questions about whether more could have been done to protect the boy.
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