Missing Crystal Lake boy Andrew 'AJ' Freund: Boy, 5, did not leave home on foot, police say

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- A 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy last seen on Wednesday night remains missing, and police said Friday that they are focusing their investigation on the boy's home.

On Thursday, police went in and around 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund's home in Crystal Lake on Dole Avenue. The FBI also joined the search.

AJ was last seen around 9 p.m. Wednesday when his parents told police he went to bed. By Thursday morning, police said he was missing.

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HAVE YOU SEEN HIM? Police are asking for your help to find a missing 5-year-old boy.

AJ has short, blonde hair and is approximately three-foot-five, weighing 70 pounds. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants.

Law enforcement from several agencies searched the neighborhood Thursday with canines. FBI agents were seen leaving with what appeared to be items from the residence. Teams on Crystal Lake used sonar equipment in an attempt to locate the boy.

Friday, police said canine units only picked up AJ's scent within the residence, indicating Andrew had not walked away on foot. Police said there is no indication that an abduction took place.

Police have called Freund's home a crime scene. The home sits quiet, empty and in disrepair with several windows missing. Shortly before 5 p.m. a large police presence was once again seen in and around the home, though authorities didn't say why so many officers were there.

Andrew Freund, Sr., the boy's father, was approached by detectives when he left the home for the first time Friday. Detectives asked him to come with them right then. Freund responded, "I need to get a phone. Then I'm gonna come back."

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A 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy last seen on Wednesday night remains missing, and police said Friday that they are focusing their investigation on the boy's home.

Freund was seen going in and out the front door throughout the day and spoke briefly with reporters after leaving through a side door.

"We're just extremely worried," he said. "If anybody knows anything about where Andrew Jr. is please, please, contact the Crystal Lake Police Department. Let's get him home."

"AJ, please come home," Freund added before he walked away from cameras. "We love you very much. You're not in any trouble, we're just worried to death. Please, please come home."

AJ's mother, Joanne Cunningham, appeared outside the home with her attorney George Kililis Friday afternoon for a brief press conference. Cunningham did not speak, but Kililis asserted her innocence and said she was not involved in AJ's disappearance. He said evidence of the search in the house was distressing for her, so she would be staying with a friend for a couple days.
Kililis said Cunningham cooperated fully with police Thursday following the initial report of her son's disappearance until he got the impression she was considered a suspect, at which time he said he advised her to exercise her right to remain silent.

Cunningham left the home with her attorney and a plastic bag that appeared to be filled with items including photos of her missing son.

Kililis said he was not representing Freund's father.

When asked, Crystal Lake police would not say if the boy's parents are considered suspects in the case, but did say based off information they've received investigators have now centered their attention on his home.
One neighbor said she couldn't sleep Thursday night.

"He's little and it's cold and...you try not to imagine the worst at this point," neighbor Janelle Butler. "I think a lot of people are worried about that. There's been no sightings."

Several neighbors, who did not want to be identified, said that police were at the home a few times a month. Many neighbors said they often heard loud fights inside and outside the home and have called authorities to do well-being checks on the children.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said they have been involved with the family on and off since AJ's birth in 2013. DCFS said AJ's younger brother was placed in a different home Thursday after their parents reported AJ missing.

Police said they do not believe there is a threat to the community.

Anyone with information about the child's location is asked to contact the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620. In addition, anyone with a cell phone can send an anonymous tip to the Crystal Lake Police Department by texting the word CLPDTIP along with the tip information to 847411 (tip411).
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