On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
67°
Mostly Cloudy
H 80° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    67°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 80° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 80° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    70°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 61°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National
Search for missing Illinois 5-year-old focused on boy’s own home, police say
Close

Search for missing Illinois 5-year-old focused on boy’s own home, police say

Police: Body Believed To Be Missing Illinois Boy AJ Freund Found, Parents Charged

Search for missing Illinois 5-year-old focused on boy’s own home, police say

Authorities found a body Wednesday believed to be that Andrew “A.J” Thomas Freund Jr., a 5-year-old Illinois boy reported missing last week by his parents.

Update 3:50 p.m. EDT April 24: “It is with a heavy heart that the Crystal Lake Police Department reports they have located what they believe to be the body of Andrew ‘A.J.’ Freund early this morning,” Crystal Lake police Chief Jim Black said Wednesday at a news conference.

Andrew’s parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., face multiple charges, including first-degree murder, in connection to the death.

>> Police: Body believed to be missing Illinois 5-year-old AJ Freund found, parents charged

Original report: Police investigators searching for a 5-year-old boy missing from his Illinois home since Thursday are focusing their attention on that home after K-9 units were unable to detect the boy’s scent anywhere but there, authorities said. 

Andrew “A.J.” Thomas Freund Jr. was reported missing from his Crystal Lake home Thursday morning. His parents told investigators they last saw him around 9:30 p.m. the night before.

“After waking up this morning and being unable to locate him in the home, Andrew’s parents contacted police and reported him missing,” a news release from the Crystal Lake Police Department said

Crystal Lake Police Department
An undated family photo shows 5-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund, who was reported missing by his parents Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Crystal Lake, Ill. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy anywhere other than inside the family's home, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.
Close

Search for missing Illinois 5-year-old focusing on home, police say

Photo Credit: Crystal Lake Police Department
An undated family photo shows 5-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund, who was reported missing by his parents Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Crystal Lake, Ill. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy anywhere other than inside the family's home, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.

>> Read more trending news

Andrew, who is about 3 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 70 pounds, has short blond hair. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants, his father, Andrew Freund Sr., said in a 911 call released Tuesday by authorities.

Crystal Lake police investigators have not issued an Amber Alert for the boy because they cannot prove he was abducted, officials said last week

CNN reported Andrew has not always lived with his parents and that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been part of the boy’s life since his birth. DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch told the news network that Andrew became a ward of the state as a newborn following allegations of neglect by his mother, JoAnn Cunningham.

Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP
JoAnn Cunningham, mother of missing 5-year-old child Andrew "A.J." Freund, stands with her attorney George Kililis outside the Freund home as he speaks on her behalf for help finding her son on Friday, April 19, 2019 in Crystal Lake, Ill. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy, who was reported missing the previous morning by his parents, anywhere other than inside the house, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.
Close

Search for missing Illinois 5-year-old focusing on home, police say

Photo Credit: Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP
JoAnn Cunningham, mother of missing 5-year-old child Andrew "A.J." Freund, stands with her attorney George Kililis outside the Freund home as he speaks on her behalf for help finding her son on Friday, April 19, 2019 in Crystal Lake, Ill. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy, who was reported missing the previous morning by his parents, anywhere other than inside the house, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.

Andrew was in someone else’s care for about two years before being returned to his parents. CNN reported that DCFS was called twice in 2018 based on allegations of neglect and abuse, but both incidents were determined to be unfounded claims. 

A neighbor, Janelle Butler, told ABC7 in Chicago that residents in Andrew’s neighborhood have been concerned about his and his younger brother’s welfare -- and have let police know it -- over the past year.

“We’ve seen the kids being taken away and are always shocked that they have been returned,” Butler told the news station.  

   

Cunningham was in court Tuesday in McHenry County to determine if her younger son, Parker, would remain with her or be placed in protective custody, ABC7 reported

Police officials released audio of the 911 call Freund made following several open records requests by local media. 

“We have a missing child,” Freund tells the dispatcher in the call. “We woke up this morning and he wasn’t … we have a missing child.”

The dispatcher can be heard typing as he asks Freund details about his son’s appearance, such as his race and what he was wearing when he vanished. Freund tells him that he and his wife last saw the boy the night before when he went to bed. 

Listen to the 911 call below, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

The dispatcher asks if the father has any idea to where his son might have wandered.

“No,” Freund responds. “We’ve canvassed the neighborhood, I went to the local park, the local gas station down here where we sometimes take him to buy treats. I spoke with the assistant principal over there at the school where the park is, and they haven’t seen him or any other child. I have no idea where he would be.”

He tells the dispatcher that he went to a doctor’s appointment that morning and, when he returned between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m., he checked on Andrew. The boy was gone, he says. 

The dispatcher asks about pets in the house and if they are missing as well. 

“Nope,” Freund says. 

John Starks/Daily Herald via AP
Andrew Freund Sr., the father of missing 5-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund, walks near his home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake, Ill. on Friday, April 19, 2019, as members of the media try to speak with him. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy, who was reported missing the previous morning by his parents, anywhere other than inside the house, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.
Close

Search for missing Illinois 5-year-old focusing on home, police say

Photo Credit: John Starks/Daily Herald via AP
Andrew Freund Sr., the father of missing 5-year-old Andrew "A.J." Freund, walks near his home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake, Ill. on Friday, April 19, 2019, as members of the media try to speak with him. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy, who was reported missing the previous morning by his parents, anywhere other than inside the house, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.

As police officers arrive outside, Freund tells the dispatcher that he and his wife found no doors or windows open that morning. 

Crystal Lake police officials said FBI agents specializing in missing children cases were on the scene of Andrew’s disappearance by Thursday afternoon. Over the first 24 hours after the boy was reported missing, multiple search and rescue K-9 units, which are trained to find people, were also deployed. 

“The canine teams only picked up Andrew’s scent within the residence, indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” police officials said

The department also activated an Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) mutual aid request. A total of 15 agencies responded, bringing with them four drones.

 

About 373 acres of ground were covered in a foot search and about 497 acres were covered from the air by the drones, authorities said. They found no sign of Andrew. 

Sonar teams spent about four hours combing the waters of Crystal Lake, which is just blocks from the boy’s home on Dole Avenue. They used cameras to search underneath all docks and piers along the shore and sonar equipment to search the lake itself. 

Again, no sign of Andrew was found, police officials said. 

As of Friday afternoon, authorities said they did not believe there was a threat to the community.

 

“Information obtained currently has police focusing on the residence,” they said in a news release. “This morning police investigators are continuing to actively investigate this case and continue to review all tips or leads sent to the police department. At this time, if the public is looking to assist, we are asking that you search your property and that you report anything suspicious to the Crystal Lake Police Department.”

Detectives continued to work the case over the weekend. By Monday, police officials said Cunningham had stopped cooperating with police in her son’s disappearance.

“On Saturday afternoon, Andrew Freund, the boy’s father, did speak with police detectives,” Monday’s news release said. “Investigators are continuing to review evidence, leads and tips as they become available.

“There has been no arrest in this case at this time.”

Police have not publicly labeled either parent a suspect. 

 

Searchers spent Monday and into Tuesday searching Lippold Park, which is a couple of miles from Andrew’s home. Police officials said Tuesday morning that the Illinois State Police was slated to fly a plane over the area to help guide searchers on the ground.

Sonar teams will also begin focusing on several ponds and smaller bodies of water, they said. 

Detectives were also seeking surveillance video from citizens -- beginning three days before Andrew was reported missing. 

“This would include video from home surveillance devices like the Ring Home Security System,” the latest news release said. “This request is for any video from Monday April 15, 2019, at 7 a.m. through April 18th, 2019 at 9 a.m. Any member of the community who may have video that could help investigators are asked to please email those videos or images to jmattson@crystallake.org.”

Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP
A makeshift memorial grows Monday, April 22, 2019, outside the home of 5-year-old Andrew “A.J.” Freund in Crystal Lake, Ill. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy, who was reported missing the morning of April 18 by his parents, anywhere other than inside the house, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.
Close

Search for missing Illinois 5-year-old focusing on home, police say

Photo Credit: Paul Valade/Daily Herald via AP
A makeshift memorial grows Monday, April 22, 2019, outside the home of 5-year-old Andrew “A.J.” Freund in Crystal Lake, Ill. Crystal Lake police say K-9s have not found the scent of the boy, who was reported missing the morning of April 18 by his parents, anywhere other than inside the house, which they say indicates Andrew didn't leave on foot. Searchers from a total of 15 agencies have spent the past five days looking for the boy.

Cunningham’s attorney, George Kililis, said during a brief news conference outside her home Friday that his client, who stood silently at his side, is not involved in her son’s disappearance. According to ABC7, Kililis said Cunningham was fully cooperative with detectives until she began to sense that she was a suspect in the case. 

The lawyer said he advised her at that time to exercise her right to remain silent, ABC7 reported

Kililis issued a written statement Tuesday in which he said Cunningham is “devastated” by Crystal Lake police officials’ statement calling her uncooperative. He said she was physically with investigators for more than eight hours the day Andrew was reported missing and spoke with multiple agents, both local and federal. 

“While law enforcement was conducting a missing child investigation, Ms. Cunningham was eager to participate,” Kililis wrote, according to ABC7. “When it became clear law enforcement was not conducting a missing child investigation, was not issuing an Amber Alert, had stopped searching for A.J. and considered her a suspect, we did advise her to stop all communications with law enforcement and she did so at our request. This is just us as her attorneys doing our job, not evidence of her wrongdoing, and is not itself suspicious in any way.”

 

Freund spoke directly to his son via the news cameras Friday. 

“A.J., please come home,” Freund said. “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble, we’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”

He asked the public to reach out to police with any information on his son’s whereabouts. 

“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.”

Anyone with information related to the case can contact the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620. Anyone with a cellphone can send an anonymous tip to the department by texting the word CLPDTIP along with the tip information to 847411 (TIP411). 

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Doctors at Baptist Health say in general, adults and children can sometimes wait months to see a counselor for their mental health needs. “There’s not enough behavioral heath providers in the community,” Dr. Terrie Andrews said.  That’s why Baptist is rolling out a new Acute Care Clinic. A $25,000 grant from CVS Health is helping them offer families same-day access to mental health services.  “If you have a cold or you're experiencing flu symptoms, you can be seen immediately in primary care. That’s what we’re wanting to build at Baptist Behavioral Health,” Dr. Andrews said.  Dr. Andrews said one in five adults and kids need mental health counseling at some point in their life.  “Something happened, maybe they’re going through a divorce they weren’t expecting,' she said. 'We’re trying to get them quick access, help to be able to stabilize them.'  She said the new clinic will also serve patients who need a prescription for their medication but can’t get an appointment with their psychiatrist.  The grant from CVS is helping to fund telehealth technology that allows doctors and patients to video chat.  Right now, the program is serving adults out of Baptist's downtown campus. Dr. Andrews says they hope to have the pediatric side of the clinic up and running by the fall.  'We know if we can intervene earlier, then their trajectory is much greater for success,' she said.  The bottom line – they want families to be able to get the help they need faster.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is investigating after human remains were found in North Jacksonville. A construction worker was pushing dirt with a bulldozer and found bones within a dirt mound, JSO said.  The Sheriff’s Office said the medical examiner was on site and confirmed the bones are human. The bones will be collected and taken to the medical examiner’s office where the medical examiner will work to make an identification. The identification process could take weeks, according to the Sheriff’s Office.  The dirt came from another site off Eastport Road and was brought to this site near I-295 and Main Street where workers are building a ramp.  JSO said the bones may be years, even decades old.
  • After decades of searching, a local Jacksonville man has finally found the family he never knew existed. This story dates back to the 1980s with a shocking plot twist.  Right now, Steven Flowe lives in Jacksonville. His parents, Joyce and Steven Flowe Sr. raised him in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite having a great childhood, Steven Jr. felt like a piece of him was missing.  “Learning from my cousin that I was adopted started the curiosity,” Steven Flowe Jr., said. “I was desperately looking, you know, asking anybody, ‘Hey I was born in this area do you know’ and I told my story.”  His story started back in 1984, when a baby was found in a cardboard box on the porch of a dry cleaners in Charlotte.  The original broadcast report from our sister station, WSOC in Charlotte, explains that an employee saw a box with a big splotch of blood on top of it.  “I eased the sheet back and I saw the baby’s head,” a man said in that report.”  The baby was Steven Jr.  His story was all over the news and in newspapers too.  “It was ten days later that we picked him up and brought him home.” Joyce Flowe, Steven’s adoptive mother, said. “He's been with ever since.”  The Flowes were trying to have children, and Steven was their miracle child.  “From the first moment I looked at him and I believe I saw his eyes and he made eye contact with me, I said ‘This is my son,’ and it’s been that way ever since,” Steven Flowe Sr. said.  As Steven Jr. got older, he had questions about where he came from. He even took to the local newspaper to find his biological family.  “I think it’s my personality -- that I just have to know. I have to know the answer,” Steven Flowe, Jr. said.  His questions remained unanswered for decades. Steven moved to Jacksonville with his wife and created their own family. It wasn’t until September 2019 that his curiosity re-lit a fire inside of him, and he decided to take a DNA test. His expectations were low.  “I got my results back and it showed that I had a half sibling,” Steven Jr. said. “I was like ‘Whoa wait a minute.’ I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting a fifth or sixth cousin but not a sibling.“  Soon after Steven Jr. got his results, Karen Perry got a Twitter message saying “we may be related.”  “He sent me a picture.” Perry said. “I was like, ‘oh my God he looks like me and my family.’“ That wasn’t even the craziest part. “He told me he lived in Jacksonville. I said I live in Jacksonville.”  The two lived less than a mile apart from each other in the Bartram Park community—just a quick four minute drive down the road.  Despite being separated for decades, it was as if the two knew each other forever.  “When I saw him in person, I felt that I knew that this was my brother,” Perry said. “I knew it was my brother.”  “When I hugged her, it was just like everything went away, and it was like this is my sister,' Steven Jr. said.  Perry eventually led Steven Jr. to his biological mother, who he said he has forgiven.  “She knew that she needed ... that I needed to be with another family.” Steven Jr. said. “I needed to be with another family.”  His family has finally come full circle.
  • Shirley Colter is a Navy veteran who lives in Orange Park. Colter uses VA Video Connect to chat with her VA health care providers. It’s new technology that lets her talk to her doctor using a smartphone, computer or tablet.  More than 1,600 veterans are using this technology.  One of the advantages is you don’t have to physically be in the VA hospital or clinic. The user can be anywhere and meet with their doctor face-to-face.  “To me it’s just as good as being in person,” Colter said.  VA Video Connect reaches patients from southern Georgia all the way down to the villages in Florida.  Dr. Melinda Screws, the chief medical officer for the Jacksonville Outpatient VA Clinic, said it’s more convenient for many patients.  “Sometimes it’s really just a relatively simple question that they need answered. Maybe they have a rash and they think they may have shingles and they can show that to me on camera and we can, ‘Yes, I think that it is shingles, or no maybe you got into some poison ivy,’” Screws said.  Colter said the technology can also help other veterans like her who may live in rural communities and can’t make the drive to a VA clinic.  “I think it’s just going to be pretty awesome, especially for those veterans that live pretty distance away from the clinic,” Colter said.  The VA says this technology will mainly be used for follow-up appointments, like speaking to patients about medications or test results.  If you would like a demonstration you can visit the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic on Jefferson Street. in the Primary Care Lobby on Feb. 26 and 27.  To learn more about VA Video Connect you can head to mobile.va.gov/appstore.
  • UPDATE: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says 10-year-old Sam Booker has been found safe. ORIGINAL STORY: The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is asking for the community's help finding a missing 10-year-old.  JSO says Sam Booker was last seen walking out from his classroom at Long Branch Elementary on Franklin Street around 1:00 PM Tuesday. Due to the circumstances involved, police say they want to make sure he's safe.  Booker is described as being 4'6'' tall, 60 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Police say he was wearing a red hoodie, blue jeans, and red and white shoes.  If you've seen him or know where he is, you're urged to call the sheriff's office at (904) 630-0500.

The Latest News Videos