Demolition firm agrees to tear down AJ Freund's Crystal Lake home at no charge

The Crystal Lake home where prosecutors say 5-year-old AJ Freund was killed by his parents in April could be demolished in 30 to 60 days.

An offer from Green Demolition Contractors Inc., of Chicago, to donate its work, along with a contract with another firm to remove asbestos, were accepted Tuesday by the Crystal Lake city council.

Asbestos must be removed from the bathroom and basement of the boarded up house at 94 Dole Ave. before it's demolished. The city doesn't own the home or property but has court-ordered authority to tear it down.

The home has been vacant since April 24, when AJ's parents, Andrew Freund Sr. and Jo Ann Cunningham, were arrested in connection with their son's beating death. It subsequently was boarded up and deemed dangerous after 41 code violations were found.

In July, Crystal Lake sued Freund Sr., Cunningham and others with ties to the property to have it demolished.

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

Freund Sr., 61, also 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.

The city received six bids for demolition ranging from $18,700 to $45,826. Those were waived and Green's offer, received several days after the bids were opened, was accepted. Although Green will be donating the services, it will be paid $10 in order to create a binding contract.

Mayor Aaron Shepley on Wednesday said the city was grateful and the donation "confirms beyond doubt the existence of truly big-hearted people and companies who care about their fellow man."

That Green Demolition is not a local company is "particularly remarkable," he added.

"With everything going on in our world we are especially thankful for this gesture of pure kindness from beyond the city (Crystal Lake) limits," Shepley said.

A company representative was not immediately available Wednesday to comment.

The city council on Tuesday also agreed to pay Environmental Cleansing Corp. $5,500 to remove asbestos so the demolition can begin.

The Markham company had submitted a proposal after a survey of potential asbestos was performed. According to information provided by the city, the company has experience and ability to meet a tight demolition timeline outlined by the court.

Shepley said the demolition could be complete in as little as 30 days, but 30 to 60 days is more realistic. The owners will be notified before the demolition begins and given an opportunity to remove any personal effects, he said.

The property is owned by real estate investor William Progar. He had held the mortgage and was the sole bidder during a foreclosure sale. Progar is owed $116,871 and set the opening bid at $49,900.

Progar's attorney, Jonathan Kaman has hinted at a possible "alternative plan" for the property, but he did not elaborate.

"As for the future of the property, the only thing of which we are certain at this time is that the house will be demolished," Shepley said.

Kaman on Wednesday said he would be filing motions in the foreclosure case soon and will have a statement regarding the next steps.

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AJ Freund
JoAnn Cunningham, left, and Andrew Freund Sr.
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