Crystal Lake seeking bids for Freund home demolition

  • The former home of AJ Freund on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake. The city has been granted a court order to demolish the house.

      The former home of AJ Freund on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake. The city has been granted a court order to demolish the house. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Interior shot of the former Crystal Lake home of AJ Freund at 94 Dole Ave. The house has been vacant since April.

    Interior shot of the former Crystal Lake home of AJ Freund at 94 Dole Ave. The house has been vacant since April. Courtesy of city of Crystal Lake

 
 
Updated 12/18/2019 5:27 PM

The future of the Crystal Lake home where prosecutors say 5-year-old AJ Freund was killed by his parents in April remains unclear.

The city of Crystal Lake has court-ordered authority to tear down the house at 94 Dole Ave., now that a stay on demolition expired Dec. 12.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The city is taking bids on the demolition and looking into alternate options for the property," said David Goles, an attorney representing Crystal Lake in its suit against AJ's parents, Andrew Freund Sr., and JoAnn Cunningham, and others with ties to the property.

But Goles declined to discuss what those alternate options might be.

Cunningham, 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Dec 5 and now faces up to 60 years in prison without the possibility of parole. A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.

Freund Sr., who turns 61 on Thursday, faces first-degree murder and other charges. His next court date is Jan. 14.

Both remain in the McHenry County jail on $5 million bail.

In the meantime, demolition bids are due Dec. 20 and will be evaluated by city staff members before being presented to the city council, said David Pardys, Goles' colleague.

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"We're getting the bids and it will be up to the city to make the call," Pardys said.

Mayor Aaron Shepley said the city council expects the bid results to be presented with a recommendation on Jan. 7.

The city filed suit July 10 after 41 code violations were located on the property and the home was declared dangerous.

In a separate action, the property was sold last month through foreclosure proceedings, but that has no legal bearing on the village's right to proceed with demolition.

Once the sale is confirmed in court, a 30-day "possession period" begins, after which the property legally reverts to William Progar, a real estate investor who held the mortgage and was the sole bidder at the foreclosure sale.

Progar's attorney, Jonathan B. Kaman, was not in court Wednesday, but said later he does not expect anything to happen in the foreclosure case until after Jan. 1. In a court appearance a few weeks ago, Kaman said there is "very preliminary interest in an alternative plan," for the home, but did not elaborate.

The home has been vacant since April 24, when Freund and Cunningham were arrested in connection with the fatal beating of AJ. The couple had reported AJ missing six days earlier -- three days after he had been killed, prosecutors allege. His body was recovered from a shallow grave near Woodstock.

Freund, a disbarred attorney who owned the home for decades, was brought to court Wednesday unshackled and uncuffed. When asked, he said the continuance was acceptable and did not object. Cunningham was not in court.

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