Missing boy's brother will remain in state care as hearing continued
As the search for 5-year old Andrew "AJ" Freund continued Tuesday in Crystal Lake, another aspect of the case that has gripped the community played out in a McHenry County courtroom without resolution.
AJ's younger brother will remain in the care of the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, after a shelter care hearing to determine whether he should be returned to his mother, JoAnn Cunningham, was postponed until Monday.
Judge Christopher Harmon continued the hearing after dismissing the boy's appointed guardian because of an unspecified conflict. Harmon said he will appoint a new guardian Wednesday.
The hearing will determine whether, by a preponderance of evidence, the boy was abused or neglected and should remain in state care.
Because of the sizable press contingent in court Tuesday, Harmon read a lengthy "decorum order," which prohibits media from audio or video recording the proceedings and limits interviews to designated areas, among other conditions.
Cunningham and AJ's father, Andrew Freund, sat at the same courtroom table separated by an attorney but did not speak to each other. They were not available for comment after court.
Tension was palpable, and before the hourlong hearing, McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick D. Kenneally addressed the media camped outside the courthouse. He said the person responsible for AJ's disappearance has a number of avenues available, but the worst is to conceal the truth.
"This is not going away. I promise as state's attorney, we'll literally be working on this every single day until we find AJ and/or get justice for him," Kenneally said.
Cunningham's lawyer, George Kililis, planned a news conference outside after the proceedings but cut his remarks short and did not answer questions. In remarks lasting about a minute, Kililis said he wished he could "tell you something more meaningful" but had nothing to say.
"The state filed a petition with multiple allegations and it requires a lot of work for us to try to figure things out and sort them through," he said. "For that reason and that reason only, I really have nothing else to say to you today. I was hoping to be able to say more, but unfortunately, everything has been delayed to Monday."
He ignored shouted questions as he walked back to the court building, including a bystander's "Where's AJ?"
Information released Tuesday by Crystal Lake police showed that on Thursday night, after AJ's parents reported him missing earlier in the day, Cunningham was taken into custody on an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court on a charge of driving with a suspended license. She was handcuffed, photographed, fingerprinted and briefly held in a temporary detention area at the Crystal Lake police station before posting $300 bail.
That case was scheduled to be heard in court Tuesday morning, but was continued to May 21.