Watch CBS News

Missing Boy A.J. Freund's Mother Seeking To Regain Custody Of Younger Son

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As Crystal Lake Police continue to investigate the disappearance of 5-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund, his mother will be in court in an effort to regain custody of her younger son, Parker.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has said Parker was placed in another home under a DCFS safety plan after A.J. went missing.

A hearing to determine if JoAnn Cunningham can regain custody of Parker has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday in Woodstock.

Police have said Cunningham has not been cooperating with the investigation. She has refused to answer questions or take a polygraph test.

Her attorney, George Kililis, denies that claim, and said Cunningham was helpful during the investigation until it became clear police considered her a suspect in A.J.'s disappearance.

Meantime, Crystal Lake Police said they have been conducting grid searches of two parks. Officers began searching Lippold Park, 1251 Illinois Route 176, on Monday, but ended the search early due to storms. The search will resume Tuesday morning. Police officers also were seen searching Tuesday morning at Veterans Acres Park, about two miles away at 431 Walkup Rd.

Illinois State Police will provide a plane to assist the search from the air, and sonar teams will scan several ponds and other bodies of water.

Cunningham spoke to the media through her attorney last week, saying she doesn't know what happened to A.J., and didn't have anything to do with his disappearance.

Kililis said he advised Cunningham to stop all communication with police. He also told Cunningham, who is seven months pregnant, to avoid a polygraph test, describing her as emotionally, mentally, and physically fragile since A.J. went missing.

"This is just us as her attorneys doing our job, not evidence of her wrongdoing, and is not itself suspicious in any way," Kililis said in a statement Monday afternoon. "We ask that the community continue to provide this family compassion and support during this sad time in their lives, and to avoid jumping to any conclusions about the tragic circumstances in which they find themselves."

Meantime, people in and around Crystal Lake have continued to show their support for A.J.' safe return, some dropping off cards and putting up ribbons around his home.

"We don't know them, but still, having kids is hard. It's hard to imagine that this little boy's missing," Michelle Winters said.

Police have asked Crystal Lake residents with home surveillance cameras to review their videos for any possible clues about A.J.'s disappearance. Investigators are interested in any footage from 7 a.m. last Monday through 9 a.m. on Thursday, the day A.J. was reported missing.

A.J.'s parents have said they last saw him when they put him to bed Wednesday night. They said they discovered him missing when they woke up Thursday morning.

On Friday, police said canine teams brought in to help search for A.J. only picked up his scent inside the home, indicating he did not walk out of the house. Police also said there is no indication an abduction had taken place, and investigators were focusing on the family's home.

People said they're still holding out for A.J.'s safe return.

"We're kind of hopeful. We kind of have a feeling that he's going to pop up, be like, 'Hey I'm here,' but then at the same time you have that feeling in the back of your head that, what if something happens while you're here and they get news that they found him, but it wasn't in a good way," said Lupe Mercado, of Crystal Lake.

DCFS has said they have been in contact with A.J.'s parents since 2013, when he was born with opiates in his system amid allegations of neglect. In 2013, A.J. was placed into foster care when he was about a month old, and was returned to his parents about 18 months later, in June 2015.

In March 2018, a DCFS investigation deemed neglect allegations against both parents unfounded, and Cunningham agreed to reenter drug treatment.

In December of last year, DCFS said allegations of abuse and neglect against the mother were unfounded.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.