Former home of murdered Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund may have new owner

Cate Cauguiran Image
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Former home of murdered Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund may have new owner
The former home of Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund, who was allegedly murdered by his parents, may have a new owner.

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- The former home of 5-year-old AJ Freund, who Crystal Lake police say was killed by his parents, may have a new owner.

The house on Dole Street is an eerie reminder of tragedy that devastated the Crystal Lake community. Investigators believe it was the last place AJ Freund was alive. His parents Andrew Freund, Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham are both in prison as they await trial for murder charges in his death.

As of Tuesday, the home may have a new future.

"My personal opinion, I don't know, even if they demolish it and rebuild who would want to live there," said Tracy Kotzman, ROAR for AJ community group.

Neighbors dealt for weeks with investigators, national media attention and general onlookers as what was initially a search for a missing boy turned into a grisly discovery.

"I think no matter what they do, the sadness is going to loom there for the neighbors," said Kotzman.

At a Thursday foreclosure hearing, attorneys said a foreclosure sale was made, pending a judge's approval. The owner, William Progar, is a real estate investor who declined to comment.

Those who have spent the past year trying to honor and keep AJ's memory alive said the property should have another purpose.

"Turn it into something the community can use, the community can go there and reflect not just on AJ but have fun with other children there," Kotzman said. "Even just, like, a memorial bench, you walk your dog, you go through, like, a little garden, I think that would be nice.

The city said it wants the home torn down entirely, going as far as to file a lawsuit to get it demolished due to safety concerns. The city attorney said the pending sale will not affect their lawsuit.

The city of Crystal Lake has a court date set for November 27 to see what the judge will have to say. In the meantime, those who support the efforts to memorialize AJ say they will not stop in hopes that what happened to him will not happen any other child again.


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