Court allows foreclosure sale of AJ's home in Crystal Lake
A McHenry County judge Tuesday gave an investor authority to proceed with a foreclosure sale of the Crystal Lake home where authorities say 5-year old AJ Freund was murdered.
The decision by Judge Suzanne C. Mangiamele gives AJ's parents, Andrew Freund and JoAnn Cunningham, until Nov. 20 to pay an outstanding mortgage, penalties and interest to forestall the sale. As of July 30, the amount owed sat at nearly $107,536.
Both Freund, 60, and Cunningham, 36, remain in custody at the McHenry County jail on $5 million bail each on charges including first-degree murder stemming from AJ's death in April.
The pair, who were cuffed at the hands and chained at the feet Tuesday as they stood side by side before Mangiamele, were brought from jail for the short proceeding. The matter had been continued from Aug. 8 to give Cunningham, who previously was represented by Freund, time to find another attorney.
That didn't happen and neither answered legal motions leading to what is known as a summary judgment by Mangiamele. That was the outcome sought by property investor William Progar, who acquired the note and mortgage on the home May 20 from Home Sites LLC.
The Dole Avenue house has been vacant since April 24, when the couple were arrested and AJ's body recovered from a makeshift grave near Woodstock.
Legal action regarding the home was initiated by another entity in July 2018. A redemption date was set but Freund was able to have it vacated, according to Progar attorney Jonathan B. Kaman.
Freund and Cunningham are represented by court-appointed attorneys and it is considered unlikely the debt on the home will be paid within 90 days.
"We will take the next step in preparation to have the foreclosure sale," Kaman said after Tuesday's hearing. In this case, a private firm that specializes in such sales will be hired, he added.
If the debt isn't paid or other arrangements made by Nov. 20, sale of the home and property will proceed. Typically, the plaintiff makes the first bid, according to Kaman. If no one else bids, Progar would become the new owner and take possession of the home and property 30 days after required court approval of the sale.
The low bid has to be "in the realm of some reality," Kaman said. A certain percentage of the winning bid would be due at the time with the balance to be paid within 24 hours.
In a separate action, the city of Crystal Lake on July 10 filed a suit to have the home demolished, calling it dangerous and unsafe. How that suit affects the foreclosure or vice versa is unclear. The next court date for the city's lawsuit is Oct. 9.