Authorities refocus search of missing 5-year-old boy on family home near Chicago

ABC News
ABC News

(CHICAGO) — The search for a 5-year-old boy from Illinois who went missing on Wednesday continued into the weekend as police re-focused the investigation on the boy’s family home.

Andrew “AJ” Freund, a blond boy who is approximately 3 feet, 5 inches tall, was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants in his home at around 9 p.m. — his bedtime — on Wednesday, according to Crystal Lake Police Department detectives.

“In reviewing all investigative information thus far, there is no indication that would lead police to believe that an abduction had taken place,” A Crystal Lake Police Department statement said. “At this point, the police department has no reason to believe there is a threat to the community.”

The FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are also investigating Freund’s disappearance.

Jassen Strokosch, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, confirmed to ABC News that the agency has been in contact with Freund’s family since AJ was born in 2013. He added that AJ’s younger brother has been placed in a different home.

In front of media gathered outside the family home on Friday, Andrew Freund, AJ’s father, said, “AJ, please come home. You’re not in any trouble, we’re just worried to death.”

Separately, Freund’s mother, Joanne Cunningham, sobbed in front of reporters during a press conference outside the family home on Friday afternoon but did not speak. In her hand, she held a plastic Goodwill bag that contained pictures of her children.

George C. Kililis, her defense lawyer, spoke during the press conference, saying, “Ms. Cunningham doesn’t know what happened to AJ and has nothing to do with the disappearance of AJ. Ms. Cunningham is worried sick, she’s devastated.”

He added that he does not know AJ’s father, Andrew Freund and is only representing Cunningham.

“Ms. Cunningham cooperated with the police extensively yesterday,” Kililis said. “Until at some point, we got the impression that she may be considered a suspect. I don’t know if she is or not and I don’t know how serious that consideration is. As an attorney, once I realized that, I advised Ms. Cunningham to remain silent from that point on.”

Kililis did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News early Saturday.

By Thursday, an exhaustive search, including 15 police departments and four drones, covered hundreds of acres of public areas and yielded nothing. A sonar search of Crystal Lake also turned up nothing.

Police canine teams “only picked up Andrews ‘scent’ within his home, “indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” the Crystal Lake Police Department statement said.

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