No buyers for AJ's former Crystal Lake house
The court-ordered sale of the vacant Crystal Lake house where prosecutors say 5-year-old AJ Freund was killed by his parents drew no outside interest Thursday and took less than a minute to complete.
No bidders attended the foreclosure sale at NLT Title LLC in Crystal Lake. So, pending court approval, real estate investor and mortgage holder William Progar will become the new owner of the house at 94 Dole Ave.
Progar, who is owed $116,871, had set the opening bid at $49,900. He was not present Thursday at the sale and, through his attorney, has declined to discuss what he intends to do with the house and property.
The little blue and white cottage-style house is in disrepair and has been vacant and boarded up since April 24. That's when AJ's parents, Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham, were arrested after the boy's body was recovered from a makeshift grave near Woodstock.
Freund and Cunningham are charged with first-degree murder and several other offenses. They remain in the McHenry County Jail on $5 million bail each.
The house has become a sorrowful reminder to the community of what is alleged to have happened there.
In a separate court action, the city of Crystal Lake filed suit to have it demolished after an inspection resulted in 41 violations and/or dangerous and unsafe conditions inside and out.
A court proceeding in that case is scheduled for Wednesday. How the foreclosure and demolition request affect each other is unclear. The best use of the property would be for a new house to be built, according to the city's suit.
"The (city's) proceedings still are going to continue," said Progar's attorney, Jonathan B. Kaman. "I'm sure we'll have a conversation about it." The outside legal counsel representing Crystal Lake in this case could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The house had offered in "as is" condition and was not available to potential buyers for interior inspection. Buyer interest was considered unlikely, given the condition and circumstances surrounding the house, although the sale as a legal matter was typical.
"It's only unusual because of who the defendants are," Kaman said.
Andrew Freund, who originally bought the house in the 1990s, and Cunningham were found in default by McHenry County Associate Judge Suzanne C. Mangiamele on Aug. 20, and the foreclosure sale was ordered.
Typically, bidders in foreclosure sales have to produce 25% of the price upfront and the rest within 24 hours. But since there was no outside interest, Progar's offering was considered a "credit bid" and he still is owed the total judgment amount, Kaman said.
In a week or two, a hearing before Mangiamele will be held to confirm the sale and enter a judgment. The change in possession becomes effective 30 days later.