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Illinois parents plead not guilty in death of 5-year-old

By
Danielle Haynes
AJ Freund's parents face a combined 41 counts in his death. File Photo courtesy of Crystal Lake Police Department/Facebook
AJ Freund's parents face a combined 41 counts in his death. File Photo courtesy of Crystal Lake Police Department/Facebook

May 10 (UPI) -- The parents of a 5-year-old Illinois boy whose beaten body was found a week after he went missing pleaded not guilty to murder charges Friday.

Andrew Freund Sr., 60, and JoAnn Cunningham, 36, appeared separately in McHenry County Court to enter their pleas to a range of charges related to the death of their son, Andrew "AJ" Freund.

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Last month, searchers found AJ's body wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in Woodstock, Ill. The McHenry County Coroner's Office said the boy died of injuries to his skull and brain sustained from blunt-force trauma.

According to court documents, his parents forced AJ to remain "in a cold shower for an extended period of time" before he was struck to death on April 15. AJ's father reported him missing to police April 18, telling the 911 dispatch operator he had last seen his son the night before when he put him to bed.

After investigators analyzed the parents' cellphone data, Freund gave police information that led to AJ's body.

The parents face a combined 41 charges, including murder, concealment of a body, aggravated domestic abuse of a child younger than 13, reckless conduct, unlawful restraint and child endangerment. Each faces life in prison if convicted.

Freund and Cunningham were being held on $5 million bond.

AJ's 3-year-old brother was removed from the home and placed with another family following AJ's disappearance.

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