Following a frantic search for a missing five-year-old boy, police have revealed that they do not believe he was abducted or wandered away from his suburban Chicago home.
The parents of Andrew “AJ” Freund told police on Thursday that they last saw their son when they put him to bed around 9 p.m. the previous night and had no idea what happened to him. Police are now saying that they’re placing a renewed focus on the home after dogs “only picked up Andrew’s ‘scent’ within the residence indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” ABC 7 reports.
“(T)here is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place,” Crystal Lake Police Department said in a press release.
An investigation is still ongoing as AJ has yet to be found after police searched about 373 acres of the surrounding area on foot, and another 500 acres using drones. On Thursday, teams used sonar to check the nearby Crystal Lake and beach area to no avail.
It was additionally revealed that there have been previous allegations of abuse and neglect against AJ’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham. The Illinois Department of Child and Family services has “been involved with the family” since AJ was born, a spokesperson said.
Shortly after his birth, he was brought into the department’s custody, and he resided in the care of someone other than his parents from 2015 to 2018. The parents have another child who was reportedly living in the home up until AJ’s disappearance this week and has now been placed with another family.
In March and December of 2018, the department was called to AJ’s home on reports of abuse and neglect, which were ultimately unfounded, the spokesperson added.
Through her lawyer, Ms. Cunningham denied any insinuation that she was involved in her son’s disappearance.
She “doesn’t know what happened to AJ, and had nothing to do with the disappearance of AJ,” her attorney George Kililis said. “Ms. Cunningham is worried sick. She is devastated.”
While speaking on television this week, AJ’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., addressed his son directly.
“AJ, please come home,” he said. “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”