News - McHenry County

Judge grants city’s request to demolish house of slain Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund

A McHenry County judge on Wednesday granted the city of Crystal Lake's request for a default judgment on its July petition to demolish this house at 94 Dole Ave. Police believe the parent's of AJ Freund killed their 5-year-old son in the home.

The city of Crystal Lake is allowed to move forward with its plans to demolish the house where police say accused child murderers JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. killed their 5-year-old son.

McHenry County Judge Kevin Costello on Wednesday granted the city’s request for a default judgment on its July petition to demolish the house at 94 Dole Ave., since neither Freund nor the current mortgage holder, William Progar, had filed responses to the city’s original request.

“I see no legal basis to deny the request for default,” Costello said.

The judge also granted a request by Progar’s attorney, Johnathan Kaman, to delay the actual demolition for at least two weeks, making Dec. 12 the earliest date the house could be torn down. Despite the city’s claims that it would cost more money to bring the house up to code rather than knocking it down, Progar believes the home has “more value as a structure than a vacant lot,” Kaman said.

Demolishing the home and ridding it of the mold that was discovered inside would cost an estimated $17,000, according to the city’s petition. Alternatively, it would cost $103,290 to bring the home within city code, according to one Crystal Lake construction company’s estimate. Necessary repairs would include removing and replacing the roof and gutters, removing padlocks from interior doors, removing and replacing two toilets and installing a new sump pump, according to the estimate.

Once the demolition is complete and the lot is vacant, the property would be worth an estimated $28,000, said Frank Harrison, the Woodstock-based consultant who appraised the land.

Cunningham and Freund haven’t been inside the home since their April arrests on first-degree murder charges in connection with AJ’s death. In that time, the city’s public works department has tended to the property, where weeds, garbage bags and an unused car served as public nuisances, and placed a lien against the home each time maintenance was performed.

Freund, who recently lost the property through a foreclosure, didn’t dispute the city’s request Wednesday morning.

“I would not object to the motion at this point,” Freund said.

Now, members of the Crystal Lake City Council must decide if and how to proceed. Council members are expected to discuss the matter at their Tuesday meeting.

A public auction took place Nov. 21 at the NLT Title office, 390 Congress Parkway, Suite D, Crystal Lake.

Progar, a private real estate investor, placed the starting and lone bid of $49,900, therefore winning the property by default.

Kaman hopes to have the foreclosure sale approved by a judge sometime next week.

Attempts to foreclose on the property began in 2018, when lending company Home Sites LLC filed a petition citing defaulted payments in the amount of $98,909.

The lenders subsequently backed out of the proceedings when Progar bought the mortgage from them.

In July, McHenry County Judge Suzanne Mangiemele granted the foreclosure request, marking the beginning of a three-month redemption period, during which Freund and Cunningham could have tried to win back their property by paying the $107,536 owed in liens and unpaid property taxes.

Katie Smith

Katie Smith

Katie reported on the crime and courts beat for the Northwest Herald from 2017 through 2021. She began her career with Shaw Media in 2015 at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, where she reported on the courts, city council, the local school board, and business.