News - McHenry County

Demolition of AJ Freund’s Dole Avenue home set to begin Wednesday

Construction equipment sits outside the home formerly occupied by Joann Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. on Tuesday in Crystal Lake.  The house where their son, AJ Freund, was allegedly killed is scheduled to be demolished Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, a ugly chapter of Crystal Lake history will begin to come to an end.

The construction equipment is ready, the yard is fenced and the Dole Avenue home where AJ Freund allegedly was killed by his parents is set to be demolished, starting at 7 a.m., Crystal Lake community development director Michelle Rentzsch said.

The home at 94 Dole Ave. has been vacant since Freund’s parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., were charged with killing their son in April.

The contractor, Green Demolition Contractors Inc., offered to donate the services needed to demolish the structure several days after the bids were received and opened for the project.

Crystal Lake saved a “substantial” amount because of the donated services, Rentzsch said.

The city rejected six bids from other companies in favor of the services donated by Green Demolition. The lowest of these bids would have been $18,700 from Alpine Demolition Services in St. Charles.

Before demolishing the house, asbestos materials had to be removed. The city surveyed the building and found two areas, the bathroom and basement, that contained asbestos material. To get rid of it, on Tuesday, the Crystal Lake City Council authorized executing a contract with Environmental Cleansing Corp. for $5,500.

Cunningham pleaded guilty on Dec. 5 to first-degree murder in connection with AJ’s death and is set to be sentenced April 30.

She faces a maximum possible 60-year prison sentence. Cunningham wouldn’t be eligible for parole until she is 96 years old. The boy’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., also made a court appearance last Thursday and waived his right to a jury trial. If the case were to go to trial a judge would be responsible for deciding whether Freund is guilty or not guilty.

Freund remained at the McHenry County Jail on Thursday on a $5 million bond. Cunningham’s bond was revoked after she entered her guilty plea.

Freund and Cunningham were arrested April 24 after Freund allegedly led investigators to a rural burial site in Woodstock.

About a week earlier, Freund called 911 and reported AJ missing. The news launched a nationwide search for the 5-year-old boy who was reported to have been last seen wearing Ninja Turtle pajamas before bed the night before.

A private real estate investor who previously placed the sole and winning bid on the property has since relinquished the mortgage and no longer is responsible for the thousands of dollars of past due property taxes on liens.

Cunningham is scheduled for one additional status court date on March 19. Freund is due back in court April 24.

Demolishing the home and ridding it of the mold that was discovered inside would cost an estimated $17,000, according to the city’s previous petition on the matter. Alternatively, it would have 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.

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.