News - McHenry County

Father of missing Crystal Lake boy leaves home with police

5-year-old reported missing Thursday

Residents gather at Main Beach in Crystal Lake to participate in a vigil for 5-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund, who has been missing since Thursday.

Police continue to investigate the disappearance of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund.

The child was reported missing Thursday morning. His parents have said he last was seen about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Members of the FBI specializing in missing children and the Crystal Lake Police Department are investigating. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has taken custody of Andrew’s younger brother.

The boy’s father, Andrew “Drew” Freund, left the family home in the zero to 100 block of Dole Avenue with police Saturday afternoon.

About 12:30 p.m. Saturday, three plainclothes law enforcement officers in unmarked cars with city of Crystal Lake vehicle stickers on the windshields went to the family home, apparently looking for Freund.

The officers called to Freund from outside the side door.

“Andrew, are you in there?” police called while knocking on the door.

“We are here to help you, Andrew,” an officer said when the knock went unanswered.

The three then went inside the house. An officer emerged about 10 minutes later, apparently to let out the family dog in the backyard. The officers and Freund came out the side door of the house shortly after, and they walked to the unmarked vehicles.

Freund was not handcuffed, and he did not respond to questions from reporters before getting into the back of the unmarked vehicle. Police left without answering questions.

A knock on the door of the family home went unanswered Saturday morning before police arrived, as well as Saturday evening.

A teddy bear, candles, Easter eggs, flowers and wooden letters “A” and “J” were left in the family’s yard as a tribute.

Multiple calls and emails to the Crystal Lake Police Department were not returned Saturday. No one was available at the station to answer questions Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of people showed up at Main Beach in Crystal Lake for a spontaneous vigil Saturday night.

Crystal Lake residents Tracy Calhoun, Amy Kneitz and Lisa Kincaid organized the event after seeing a frenzy of negativity and suspicion surrounding the case on social media, Kneitz said.

“It started to get very out of hand and ugly,” she said. “We don’t know what happened. We just ask you put yourself in their shoes. ... It’s not fair to speculate.”

Vigil attendees said prayers, held moments of silence, lit candles and signed a poster card for local law enforcement teams.

The three organizers said they were “blown away” by the show of support. Some participants described Crystal Lake as a tight-knit community and said this kind of support made sense.

“This is what people do when there aren’t any answers,” Crystal Lake mother Jamie Martinez said. “There is nothing else to do but gather together.”

Attendees also expressed worry and sadness over the situation.

Jennifer Mascarello said she has lived in Crystal Lake for more than two decades and never would have expected something like this to occur.

“I thought as I was getting into my car that I never thought I would be going to something like this,” she said. “It has been on my mind the past few days. The unanswered questions are unsettling.”

Neighbor Kevin Gallagher said it is a person’s natural instinct to suspect the worst has happened.

“But you show your support regardless,” he said. “We don’t know what has transpired. You just hope for the best.”

Rachel Busse said she lives in the same neighborhood as the family, and her kids have been questioning what happened since the police searches in the area began.

“I told them, ‘We are coming [to the vigil] tonight to pray for him,’ ” Busse said.

Brittany Keeperman

Brittany Keeperman was a Northwest Herald reporter from 2016-19