“We have a missing child.”
With those words, the father of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund calmly reported the Illinois boy missing last Thursday morning, according to a 911 call released by the Crystal Lake Police Department on Tuesday.
“Woke up this morning and he wasn’t … he wasn’t,” Andrew Freund Sr. told the dispatcher.
Police have said they’re putting special focus on Andrew’s home after determining it’s unlikely he was abducted or walked away.
The boy’s father told the 911 dispatcher he last saw Andrew at bedtime about 9:30 the night before.
“We’ve canvassed the neighborhood,” he said during the 911 call. “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 … I have no idea where he would be.”
“Sir, you put him to bed last night so he was in his pajamas and then when you went to get him for school, he wasn’t there and then you looked around for a bit?”
“What time was he supposed to be at school?”
“I had a doctor appointment this morning and when I got back from the doctor’s appointment and I checked in on him to say good morning and he wasn’t there,” the father told the dispatcher Thursday.
Asked whether he searched the home, Andrew Freund said, “Closets. The basement. The garage. Everywhere.”
Police on Tuesday released 63 pages of reports detailing several police calls to Andrew’s home in recent years, including one from December in which an officer described unlivable conditions in the home, with “dog feces and urine” scattered around the home.
The officer during the visit also reported a suspicious bruise on one of the children but a child welfare worker was unable to make a determination of abuse, the report said. Someone at the house said it may have been caused by a dog.
Months earlier, a local resident called police to check on the children because the home had been without power for weeks, according to the reports. An officer wrote the two children appeared “healthy and happy” and that child welfare authorities said the lack of electricity did not warrant their investigation.
Police said the search for the missing boy is focused on the Lippold Park area and they asked for surveillance video from residents.
The search effort involves 15 police agencies, drones, and rescue canine units. Sonar teams that searched Crystal Lake — the lake that gives the community its name — found nothing, and the canine teams “only picked up Andrew’s ‘scent’ within the residence indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” the police said in a statement over the weekend.
“(T)here is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place,” the Crystal Lake Police Department said.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has “been involved with the family” since Andrew’s birth, department spokesman Jassen Strokosch told CNN.
Andrew “was brought into care with us” soon after he was born, when “neglect was indicated on part of the mom,” Strokosch said. From 2013 to 2015, the infant was “in care with someone else,” he said.
The department was called in twice in 2018 on allegations of neglect in March and of abuse and neglect in December, Strokosch said. The allegations were determined to be unfounded in both instances, he said.
A younger sibling who had been in the home until this week is now living with another family, Strokosch said.
JoAnn Cunningham, Andrew’s mother, “doesn’t know what happened to AJ, and had nothing to do with the disappearance of AJ,” her attorney, George Kililis, told CNN affiliate WLS. “Ms. Cunningham is worried sick. She is devastated.”
“AJ, please come home,” the boy’s father said to television cameras. “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble. We’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.”
The parents “are no longer cooperating with investigators,” CNN affiliate ABC7 reported, citing unnamed sources.
Crystal Lake police issued a press release with Andrew’s description Thursday but didn’t issue an AMBER alert “due to law enforcement being unable to confirm an abduction occurred,” the department said.
Police said about 373 acres were searched on foot, and almost 500 acres were searched by drones. A sonar team searched under docks and piers along all of Crystal Lake and in the lake close to the main beach area, a release said. Crystal Lake is about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.