And people who knew in regards to the household’s troubles are left questioning whether or not they might have accomplished something otherwise to assist forestall AJ’s loss of life.
Quickly after AJ was born, the Illinois Division of Youngsters and Household Companies received concerned, spokesman Jassen Strokosch mentioned.
The newborn “was introduced into care with us” when “neglect was indicated on a part of the mother,” Strokosch mentioned.
So from 2013 to 2015, AJ was “in care with another person,” Strokosch mentioned.
However the boy finally returned residence to his mother and father.
Final 12 months, little one welfare companies had been known as twice to the household residence: as soon as for allegations of neglect in March, and as soon as for allegations of abuse and neglect in December.
The allegations had been decided to be unfounded in each instances, Strokosch mentioned.
Now the Division of Youngsters and Household Companies will evaluate its work with AJ’s household to see if there have been any shortcomings, performing Director Marc Smith mentioned.
If there are, the company will inform the general public what steps it’s going to take to repair them, Smith mentioned.
AJ’s youthful sibling was within the residence till this week, however is now dwelling with one other household, Strokosch mentioned.
“Defending weak kids who come to our consideration is on the core of our mission at DCFS,” Smith mentioned. “All of us really feel this loss. Our precedence is the care and security of Andrew’s youthful sibling.”
Police discovered ghastly circumstances within the residence
Little one welfare companies weren’t the one ones streaming out and in of AJ’s life. Crystal Lake cops visited, too.
Final 12 months, a neighbor within the Chicago suburb known as police to examine on the youngsters as a result of the house had been with out energy for weeks, in keeping with a police report.
On the time, an officer wrote that two kids appeared “wholesome and pleased.” And little one welfare companies mentioned the shortage of electrical energy didn’t warrant their investigation.
However months later, authorities had been known as to the household’s residence once more. This time, they noticed extra indicators of neglect.
Throughout that go to, the officer reported a suspicious bruise on one of many kids. However a welfare employee could not decide whether or not it was the results of abuse, the report mentioned. Somebody on the home mentioned it might have been attributable to a canine.
Police described damaged home windows and a robust odor of feces within the space the place AJ and his youthful brother slept.
One officer contacted Crystal Lake Constructing and Zoning to examine the house.
“Upon arrival B&Z was denied entry into the residence,” the officer wrote.
What occurred in AJ’s last days
The reasons by AJ’s mother and father and police could not be extra totally different.
Crystal Lake police mentioned AJ’s mother and father, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., compelled their son “to stay in a chilly bathe for an prolonged time frame and/or struck” AJ, in keeping with a felony criticism filed Thursday.
However the boy’s father advised a 911 dispatcher that he put AJ to mattress the night time of April 17 and couldn’t discover him the subsequent morning.
“I received again from the physician’s appointment and I checked in on him to say good morning and he wasn’t there,” Freund advised 911.
Sonar groups scoured Crystal Lake, however discovered nothing. Canine groups “solely picked up Andrew’s ‘scent’ throughout the residence, indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” police mentioned.
Per week after AJ disappeared, he was discovered lifeless about 10 miles away within the metropolis of Woodstock. The boy’s physique was wrapped in plastic and hidden in a shallow grave.
The invention got here after investigators analyzed the forensics of the mother and father’ cellphone knowledge. Police then interviewed each mother and father, who finally offered info that led to AJ’s physique, officers mentioned.
Each Cunningham and Freund face costs of first-degree homicide, aggravated battery, aggravated home battery and failure to report a lacking little one or little one loss of life, Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black mentioned.
Freund, the daddy, additionally faces a cost of concealment of homicidal loss of life, police mentioned. It isn’t instantly clear whether or not Freund has retained an lawyer.
Bail was set Thursday at $5 million for every mother or father.
‘We … are pleased you now not should undergo’
Within the close-knit metropolis of Crystal Lake, devastated neighbors hugged and wept as information of AJ’s loss of life unfold. Flowers and stuffed animals piled up outdoors the boy’s residence.
Butler remembered the final time she noticed AJ.
“He was on the door together with his brother preventing over who was going to get within the door first,” she mentioned.
Black, town’s police chief, spoke brazenly to AJ and mentioned there’s some comfort that mourners can take consolation in:
“We all know you’re at peace enjoying in heaven’s playground, and are pleased you now not should undergo.”
CNN’s Brad Parks, Ray Sanchez, Eric Levenson, Deanna Hackney and Sheena Jones contributed to this report.