Who Is Joanne Cunningham? New Details On The Mother Accused Of Murdering Her Son A.J. Freund

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Who Is Joanne Cunningham? New Details On The Mother Accused Of Murdering Her Son A.J. Freund

After an exhaustive search that involved drones and dogs, the body of 5-year-old A.J. Freund was recently found. Police immediately arrested both his mother and father for his murder. Who is Joanne Cunningham?

It was a heartbreaking mystery that led to an even more heartbreaking conclusion: according to ABC7 Eyewitness News, Andrew “AJ” Freund was reported missing on April 18, 2019. While investigators in the Crystal Lake, IL area initially believed that AJ was the victim of a kidnapping, it quickly became evident that he had suffered a far worse fate.

His parents, Andrew Freund and Joanne Cunningham, refused to cooperate with investigators, despite their nearly exhaustive efforts to find AJ. However, just this past Wednesday, AJ’s body was found on a farm property in Woodstock, IL.

Here are a few things you need to know about Joanne Cunningham.

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1. The details of AJ Freund’s murder are gruesome.

According to a report for ABC7 Chicago, investigators used what’s known as “digital forensics” to crack the case. Using cell phone data of both Joanne Cunningham’s and Andrew Freund’s, they were able to determine that the original story the couple told investigators — that young AJ merely “went missing” — was absolute hogwash.

The outlet reported that their data converged on the Woodstock, IL, property where AJ’s body was found. When the investigators realized that this was the case, they confronted the couple, who subsequently led the investigators to AJ’s body.

Investigators also reported that AJ was tossed into a cold shower for an extended period, then dragged out of the shower and beaten, savagely, to death. He was then wrapped, by his parents, in a plastic bag and dumped in a shallow grave.

2. She has been charged with five felony counts.

The Crystal Lake police chief held a press conference about the death of AJ Freund.

Given the gruesome nature of the crime, it made sense that Joanne Cunningham — and her husband, Andrew Freund — would be charged with a series of felonies. And, according to the Chicago Tribune, the prosecutors did not disappoint: Joanne Cunningham was hit with five felony charges, including first-degree murder, aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery and failure to report a missing child or child death. Her husband was hit all of these charges, as well as an additional charge of concealment of a homicidal death.

The Crystal Lake police chief held a press conference, in which he promised not to rest until there was justice for AJ Freund.

“To AJ, we know you are at peace playing in heaven’s playground and are happy you no longer have to suffer,” he said. “Nobody was going to sleep and nobody will sleep until justice is brought for AJ.”

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3. She has a history of abusing her children.

According to the NorthWest Herald, Joanne Cunningham’s mother Lorelei Hughes was the first to kick off an investigation with child protective services. In 2013, she filed a petition with the courts for an order of protection for her grandson against his parents. In her claim, she said that Joanne and Andrew frequently withheld food, medical care, and water from her children.

The report is horrifying to read.

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“[AJ] was not provided food on a regular basis, eating a meal on approximately four of the seven days of the week and a remainder of the time there was no food int he house…the child was sent to school daily with no food and no money to purchase a lunch…there was no food in the residence and the child had only marshmallows and water to eat,” said the report.

In another report for the NorthWest Herald, it was revealed that AJ Freund was born with opiates in his system, indicating that his mother was heavily addicted to drugs and took them throughout her pregnancy. In total, Joanne Cunningham and Andrew Freund received 17 visits from Child Protective Services over the course of five years.

Joanne Cunningham’s other children have now been placed in foster care while she awaits trial for the murder of her son. In addition, it was recently revealed that Joanne Cunningham is pregnant, and though it hasn’t been overtly stated by law enforcement, the chances are high that the baby will be placed in foster care when it’s born, as well.

Finally, it bears stating that no matter how gruesome this crime — and, certainly, this is one of the most horrifying crimes in recent memory — Joanne Cunningham and Andrew Freund are both presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.