Before His Abuse Death, Ill. Boy, 5, Told Mom He Never Wanted to See Her Again




Social Workers Visited Family 17 Times

The parents had claimed they last saw A.J. when they put him to bed on April 17, 2019, and reported him missing the next morning.

A.J. Freund’s Mom Allegedly Google-Searched ‘Child CPR’ the Night 5-Year-Old Illinois Boy Died

Forensic analysis of Cunningham’s cell phone later discovered a video she'd recorded showing A.J. naked and badly beaten on a mattress, which police shared with Freund Sr. in the early hours of April 24.

Freund Sr. allegedly blamed the boy’s mother for the injuries seen on the video and then offered an explanation for the events that preceded the boy’s death, before leading police to his grave, according to a court document obtained by PEOPLE.

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The boy’s father “said that he believed A.J. died on Monday morning [April 15] after spending a prolonged time in a cold shower,” according to the document. “Drew explained he wanted JoAnn to stop with the hard physical beatings and do some less violent form of punishment. Drew said cold showers was decided [as the alternative].”

The document continues: “Drew said on or about … 4/15/19, A.J. had lied about soiled underwear and he was subjected to a cold shower. Drew said he helped A.J. out of the shower after he’d been there approximately 20 minutes, and put A.J. to bed ‘cold, wet, and naked.'”

“Drew said JoAnn got up and checked on A.J. and that was when she got Drew and used Drew’s phone to search for child CPR. Drew advised at some point that he believed A.J. had died.”

Autopsy results show the child died of multiple blunt force injuries to the head.

The state’s Department of Child and Family Services had visited the family’s home at least 17 times since A.J.’s birth, records show.

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