Parents 'murdered missing son, 5, and buried body in shallow grave just miles from home where they said he'd vanished'
THE parents of a boy who they reported missing have been charged with his murder after the five-year-old's body was found buried in a shallow grave yesterday.
Andrew “AJ” Freund's remains were wrapped in plastic and dumped in woodland seven miles from his family home in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
The tragic discovery on Wednesday came after AJ's parents Andrew Freund Sr and JoAnn Cunningham reported him missing last Thursday.
Cunningham, 36, was seen weeping while being comforted by her attorney as a desperate search was launched for the boy last week.
Now, both Cunningham and 60-year-old Freund Sr have been arrested and charged with killing the boy.
During interviews conducted last night, the parents “provided information” that ultimately led to authorities locating the child's body, authorities said.
AJ is no longer suffering and his killers are being brought to justice
Police Chief James Black said on Wednesday: "AJ is no longer suffering and his killers are being brought to justice."
AJ’s parents first told police he mysteriously vanished after they put him to bed around 9pm last Wednesday.
They reported him missing the following day and each issued emotional pleas for their son's return as local police and the FBI began a huge six-day search.
Records show that child protective services had visited AJ's home on 17 occasions since his birth in 2013, DailyMail.com reports.
AJ's official cause of death has not yet been revealed and an autopsy is due to be carried out in the coming days.
'IN HEAVEN'S PLAYGROUND'
Chief Black added: "To AJ's family, it is my hope that you may have some solace knowing that AJ is no longer suffering, and his killers have been brought to justice.
"To AJ, we know you're at peace playing in heaven’s playground, and are happy you no longer have to suffer."
Earlier on Wednesday, officers were seen carrying items including a dirty shovel and brown bags from the family's home.
AJ's three-year-old brother has been taken into care while the family's dog – a boxer named Lucy – is being looked after by Animal Control officials.
PARENTS' EARLIER PLEAS
Cunningham stopped co-operating with police on Monday after detectives began suspecting she was involved in the boy's disappearance.
But her lawyer George Kililis insisted that she "doesn't know what happened to AJ and had nothing to do with the disappearance of AJ."
He added: "Ms Cunningham is worried sick. She is devastated."
AJ's father had issued a desperate plea to his son – telling him to "please come home."
He said: "We love you very much. You're not in any trouble. We're just worried to death. Please, please come home."
Both parents were charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder.
The boy’s mother also faces charges for aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery, and failure to report a missing child or child death.
Freund Sr faces charges for aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery, concealment of a homicidal death and failure to report a missing child or death.
Jeffrey Sallet, special agent in charge for the FBI’s Chicago Office, said: “No one was going to sleep, and no one will sleep until justice is brought to AJ.
"This is the beginning of the process."
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