CRYSTAL LAKE (Sun-Times Media Wire) - The mother of a missing Crystal Lake boy is being “uncooperative” with investigators as they entered their fifth day of searching for the child.
Police in the northwest suburb said on Monday that they are continuing to focus their investigation on the home of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund and “individuals that may have seen or had contact” with him, according to a statement from Crystal Lake Police Deputy Chief Tom Kotlowski.
Police said the boy’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., spoke with detectives on Saturday, but that his mother, JoAnn Cunningham, “continues to be uncooperative with police” Monday morning. No arrests have been made.
George Kililis, an attorney for Cunningham, wrote in a statement Monday that she is “devastated by the Crystal Lake Police Department’s press release that she refuses to cooperate and that, as a result, she is a suspect.”
He said Cunningham was with police all day Thursday and spoke with officers multiple times, but stopped answering investigators’ questions at her attorneys’ direction.
“While law enforcement was conducting a missing child investigation, Ms. Cunningham was eager to participate,” Kililis wrote. “When it became clear law enforcement was not conducting a missing child investigation, was not issuing an Amber Alert, had stopped searching for AJ, and considered her a suspect, we did advise her to stop all communications with law enforcement and she did so at our request.”
Kotlowski refuted the attorneys’ assertion that Cunningham is being investigated as a suspect.
“We do not have her listed as a suspect, we do not currently have any suspects in this case,” Kotlowski said.
He added that authorities have not stopped looking for Andrew, stating that search parties and officers are still searching the area and canvassing the neighborhood Monday.
Andrew’s parents told investigators they last saw him when they put him to bed about 9 p.m. Wednesday at their home in the first block of Dole Avenue and couldn’t find him when they woke up Thursday morning, police said.
Police dogs searching for Andrew’s scent have only detected it inside the home, “indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” police said.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services confirmed Saturday that its investigators have had repeated contact with Andrew’s family since he was born with opiates in his system in 2013.
He was taken into DCFS custody then and placed into a foster home less than a month after he was born, DCFS officials said, before he was returned to his birth parents in June 2015.
DCFS investigators returned twice in 2018 to investigate separate allegations of neglect, both of which were deemed unfounded, the agency said.
Officers from 15 police agencies and FBI agents searched a 373-acre area on Thursday, in addition to a 497-acre aerial search conducted using drones, police said. Boats and sonar teams also searched Crystal Lake.
No AMBER alert has been issued and police said there is no evidence to suggest that an abduction has occurred. Andrew’s younger brother was placed in another home under a DCFS safety plan, the agency said.
Kililis said a hearing was set for 3 p.m. Tuesday at the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock regarding a DCFS decision to remove Cunningham’s youngest child from her custody. Cunningham’s lawyers will hold a news conference outside the courthouse following the hearing.
Andrew is described as a 3-foot-5, 70-pound boy with short, blond hair, police said. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants.
He was also wearing green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shoes, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
His disappearance remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 815-356-3620 or text an anonymous tip to 847411 with “CLPDTIP” at the beginning of the message.