Search continues for missing 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy, father vows own investigation

Sunday, April 21, 2019
Andrew "AJ" Freund launches his own investigation
The search in Crystal Lake for 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund continued Sunday.

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- The search in Crystal Lake for 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund continued Sunday.

Freund's mom and dad say they have no idea where their son is, but they want him to come home.

AJ's father said he is fully cooperating with the police and is continuing the search for his 5-year-old son on his own. His mother's legal team says they cooperated fully but when it seemed that detectives were treating her like a suspect they stopped answering questions because she had already told them everything that she knew.

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

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.

Crystal Lake police and the FBI are now focusing their investigation on the boy's home, which they call a crime scene.

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.

The boy's father, Andrew Freund Sr., vowing to take the search into his own hands. He tells ABC7 he is cooperating with police, but continuing the search on his own.

"Just going to retrace search steps that we have already gone over. There is nothing else we can do," AJ's father said as he walked through the Crystal Lake neighborhood Sunday morning, searching for any sign of his missing son. "The Crystal Lake Police and the FBI are doing a wonderful job. We are all just doing everything that we can at this point."

The father says he is focused on his son's safety, not what others in the community may be saying about the case.

The search in Crystal Lake for missing 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund continued Sunday.

Four days into the search, the community is praying for the child's safe return.

His parents attended a vigil Saturday night where more than hundred little candles were passed throughout a crowd near Crystal Lake's Main Beach as members of the community gathered for a vigil to "Light the way for AJ."

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.

His dad stood in the back, after he returned from a several-hour-long visit with Crystal Lake police.

His mom, JoAnn Cunningham, stood in the crowd with a children's blanket wrapped around her.

Cunningham spoke out for the first time to Good Morning America, making a tearful plea for her sons return.

"I just want my kid," Cunningham said, "I want to be home together, I just want my kids, that's all."

Her lawyer now advising her to now keep quiet after Cunningham's legal team says she shared everything she knows.

"I realize that the police consider her to be a suspect. I advised Ms. Cunningham to remain silent at that point," one of her lawyers said.

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.

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."

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

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."

The boy was last seen on Wednesday night. He 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.

"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, JoAnn 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.

Andrew 'AJ' Freund's mother appeared with her attorney at a brief Friday afternoon press conference about her missing son in Crystal Lake.

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.

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.

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).