Mother of missing Illinois boy refusing to cooperate, police say

/ CBS/AP

Police focus on family with 5-year-old missing

The mother of a 5-year-old suburban Chicago boy who went missing last week is refusing to cooperate with detectives, police said Monday. JoAnn Cunningham has declined to say anything further to police since her initial report that Andrew "AJ" Freund had disappeared sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Crystal Lake Deputy Chief Tom Kotlowski said.

Father says Andrew "A.J." Freund was last seen at home Wednesday evening; Police in Crystal Lake say parents have stopped cooperating. CBS News

"She is a valuable resource because she was the last to see Andrew," Kotlowski said, adding that the boy's father, Andrew Freund, has spoken to detectives. The elder Andrew Freund spent at least three hours at the Crystal Lake Police Department on Saturday, reports CBS Chicago.

Cunningham does not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, George Kililis, did not immediately return a call for comment on Monday, but late last week he told reporters that Cunningham had been cooperative "until at some point we got the impression that she may be considered a suspect."

"She doesn't know what happened to A.J. and had nothing to do with the disappearance of A.J.," Kililis said, according to the station. "She's worried sick."

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JoAnn Cunningham, mother of missing 5-year-old child Andrew "AJ" Freund, stands with her attorney George Killis outside of the Freund home as he speaks on her behalf and pleads with the public to help find AJ on Friday, April 19, 2019 in Crystal Lake, Ill. Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP

On Monday, Kotlowski said police K-9 teams have searched the area in and around the house in the heavily wooded community about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, and investigators are confident that the boy did not wander away on foot. Police have also said there is no evidence the boy was abducted.

In the days after the boy disappeared, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said that it has had previous contact with the family — stemming in part from the fact that the boy was born with opiates in his system. DCFS said the boy spent nearly two years in foster care before he was returned to his parents. DCFS had contact twice with the family in 2018 but deemed the allegations of neglect and abuse unfounded.

Meanwhile, when the boy disappeared last week, a younger son was placed into DCFS custody. The Northwest Herald reports that Cunningham is trying to regain custody of the younger boy and a hearing at the McHenry County courthouse is scheduled for Tuesday.

Neighbors tell CBS Chicago they are devastated over the boy's disappearance but hoping for a good outcome.
"Everybody is trying to carry some normal part of life, but where is A.J.? It's heartbreaking that we don't know, neighbor Janelle Butler told the station. "We're sick over where is he. It's just, you can't think about anything else. No one can."

First published on April 22, 2019 / 2:12 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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