JoAnn Cunningham was encountering a divorce. She had actually no job, no attorney and also — by her own admission — to be addicted come a danger mix of up to 15 prescription painkillers a work to ease the aching she claimed she feeling throughout her body.

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Andrew Freund, a regional attorney almost 25 years Cunningham’s senior, approached her in the hallway. He had addiction problems himself, through pills and alcohol, that had threatened his legal career. However Freund still had actually his license. The walked up and also offered come help.

Their chance meeting in at an early stage 2012 spiraled right into a dysfunctional relationship sustained by drug abuse and violence. The following year the decision Lake pair had their first child together: Andrew thomas Freund Jr.

They referred to as him AJ. Much less than 6 years later on he to be dead, and Cunningham, 36, and Freund, 60, stand charged through murder.

The grim details the AJ’s deadly abuse have actually again forced the Illinois room of Children and also Family services to answer difficult questions about how the responded as soon as police, hospital staff and also others elevated concerns. And also a close review of the situation by the Tribune mirrors DCFS failure to properly assess the dangers AJ challenged in his home.


Andrew "AJ" Freund plays through toy cars throughout a family event in McHenry County. AJ was inserted in a foster house at birth, however his parents operated to regain custody. (Family photo)

It starts with his parental — damaged individuals who gained clean of heroin to regain custody the AJ but eventually dropped apart, leaving them can not to pay bills or administer a safe residence for their children. Their background includes many police and child-welfare hotline calls, a filthy house, residential violence, misdemeanor arrests and two prior events in i beg your pardon AJ had suspicious bruising.

also knowing all this, the method AJ passed away was shocking. The 5-year-old boy who loved books and puzzles, playing through firetrucks, bulldozers and also his two brothers to be fatally win in his very own home, prosecutors say. His parental allegedly forced AJ right into a cold shower, placed him come bed wet and naked and, ~ they uncovered he had actually died, reported their kid missing.


JoAnn Cunningham on she wedding work on may 30, 2009. She met lawyer Andrew Freund during her divorce 3 years later. (Family photo)

After 6 days that searching, the son was uncovered in a shallow grave, covering in plastic, about 7 miles from his home.

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Cunningham’s mother, Lori Hughes, knew her daughter was capable of countless terrible things, from lying to manipulation to neglect. Yet Hughes, in her an initial public comments since the tragedy unfolded, said she still cannot understand just how the artistic, straitlaced “girly girl” she elevated is now accused the something so unfathomable.

“This is the JoAnn ns raised," claimed Hughes, holding a photograph of Cunningham on she wedding day. “She was a beautiful girl. She to be a beautiful woman and a an excellent mom. She really was."