Andrew 'AJ' Freund's foster family releases statement: 'AJ was loved by us'

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- The foster family of Andrew "AJ" Freund, the young Crystal Lake boy who was found dead last Wednesday, has released a statement Tuesday remembering the "happy, fun-loving" 5-year-old.

The statement reveals that the foster family had been prevented from having contact with AJ. The statement was issued by the foster family and one of AJ's biological grandmothers, an attorney said.

The statement read:

"We, the family that lovingly cared for Andrew (AJ) during the first 18 months of his life and were then allowed to be in his life for another 26 months until the parents abruptly prevented us from having any further contact with him, want everyone to know that AJ was loved by us with all our hearts.

While we had him in our lives, he had a happy, fun-loving life. This smart little boy loved having books read to him, doing puzzles, his Thomas the Train, playing with his fire trucks, bulldozers, cement mixer and Ninja Turtles. He was very curious and always wanted to learn about everything.

He was, and will always be, our loving and caring little boy. With his brave short life, AJ made the ultimate sacrifice to save his younger brother and unborn sibling. His life shall not be in vain. AJ will always be our little superhero.

We want to thank the Crystal Lake Police and surrounding Police Departments, the FBI, all other first responders, and our community at large. We appreciate all of the kindness, prayers, love, and compassion shown by all."


Both of AJ's parents have been arrested in connection to his death according to police.

RELATED: Missing Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund's body found; parents Joann Cunningham, Andrew Freund Sr. charged

AJ's mother, Joann Cunningham, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery, and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Andrew Freund Sr. was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealment of a homicidal death, and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Last week, Cunningham's family said she stopped communicating with them a couple years ago. They said they had gained custody of her older son by another father six years ago, and recently were trying to get her to move out with AJ and his younger brother.

RELATED: How did Crystal Lake police crack the case of AJ Freund?

AJ was first reported missing by his parents on April 18 after they said they last saw him when he went to bed the night before.

Crystal Lake police and the FBI spend nearly a week searching for the missing boy before he was discovered on an isolated parcel of land off Dean Street in unincorporated Woodstock.

RELATED: AJ Freund cause of death released, parents bond set at $5M each for Joann Cunningham, Andrew Freund, Sr.

The McHenry County Coroner's report shows AJ died of multiple blunt force injures to the head.

Investigators said the boy was forced into a cold shower for an extended period of time and badly beaten before he died. His parents then allegedly wrapped their 5-year-old son's body in plastic and dumped him in a shallow grave in the woods.

RELATED: 'He got a raw deal and God's going to fix it': Crystal Lake mourns AJ Freund after body found
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