Illinois Woman Pleads Guilty to Murdering Boy Months after Body Found in Shallow Grave

Illinois Woman Accused of Murdering Boy Pleads Guilty

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36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham, the Illinois woman who was charged in the beating to death of her 5-year-old son, pleaded guilty to murder Thursday, a local news source reported.

Cunningham made the plea Thursday at the McHenry County courthouse in Woodstock. She now faces 20 to 60 years in prison.

In April, authorities performed an extensive search after 5-year-old “AJ” Freund went missing from the family’s house in Crystal Lake.

The boy’s father, 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr., later led police to a shallow grave where the boy had been buried in a wooded area. The boy’s body was found wrapped in plastic.

Freund Sr. initially told authorities that he put AJ to bed and woke up to find him dead.

Reportedly, the boy had been forced to take a cold shower as punishment after he soiled his clothes. The boy’s parents said they punished the boy with cold showers after they stopped beating him as punishment.

According to a pathologist’s report, the boy died of head trauma due to blunt force injuries.

Freund Sr. pleaded not guilty to three murder charges and other offences including aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery, failure to report a missing child or child death and concealment of a homicidal death, as per court records.

He remains held at the McHenry County jail on a $5 million bail while awaiting trial next year.

It is not clear if Cunningham will testify against Freund Sr. during his trial. The two are not married.