5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund was reported missing last April but was later found dead in a shallow grave. The little boy had been beaten to death by his parents.
His mother, JoAnn Cunningham admitted to becoming enraged when AJ soiled himself and beating him with a metal shower head. Cunningham stated in court that she loved her son and would do "anything" to bring him back but, that her drug addiction prevented her from acting appropriately toward him.
AJ had previously been seen in the ER and doctors suspected that he'd been abused. He had bruises that he couldn't really explain and on one occasion, an ER doctor even questioned if he'd been hit. "I started by asking him if he had been spanked or hit, he said 'Yes,'" said Dr. Joelle Channon. "I asked him with what and he said 'a belt.' I asked him, 'Who did it?' and he said, 'Someone not in my family' and then he offered that, 'Maybe mom didn't mean to hurt me.'"
On the night AJ died his father, Andrew Freund, says that Cunningham hit the boy and forced him into a cold shower before putting him to bed.He said the next morning, the couple found AJ dead and Freund later buried him.
Cunningham and Freund were both charged with murder. Cunningham has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. Freund hasn't been sentenced at this time but, the charges don't stop with his parents. Two former employees for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who oversaw the AJ Freund case have been charged with felonies.
Carlos Acosta, 54, and Andrew Polovin, 48, were in charge of AJ's abuse case and both of them have been charged with felony child endangerment and reckless conduct.
Reports say that it was evident that Cunningham was coaching the boy on how to respond to the case workers questions and she even video taped herself grilling her young son just days before she killed him. The bruises and injuries SHOULD HAVE been noted and reported and this child should have been taken away from his parents long before his mother killed him. Judge Robert Wilbrandt, who oversaw the case against Cunningham, said that she was responsible for AJ's "horrible death preceded by a horrible life. "
Listen, if you suspect that there are children in your circle, or even in your neighborhood, that are being abused or neglected, please speak up. No child deserves to die like this ESPECIALLY at the hands of someone who's supposed to love them.