News - McHenry County

JoAnn Cunningham transported to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln

JoAnn D. Cunningham, 37, of Crystal Lake

The woman convicted of beating and killing her 5-year-old son, AJ Freund, was transferred Thursday to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln to serve her 35-year prison sentence.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt ordered the sentence July 17 after a two-day sentencing hearing. Throughout the hearing, prosecutors played videos from JoAnn D. Cunningham’s phone, during which she could be heard berating and yelling at AJ.

Officials testified that AJ died from blunt force trauma, which prosecutors said occurred when Cunningham hit the boy repeatedly with a shower head. The mother of four pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Dec. 5.

AJ’s father, Andrew Freund Sr., also faces first-degree murder and a slew of additional charges in connection with AJ’s death. Freund’s attorney, Special Public Defender Henry Sugden, said after a July 30 status hearing that he’s been in talks with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office about a possible plea deal.

Freund is due back in court Aug. 28.

The Illinois Department of Corrections temporarily had limited the number of transfers it accepted in its facilities because of COVID-19 concerns. Representatives with the IDOC could not be reached for comment Friday.

According to the department’s website, there have been 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff and inmates at the prison where Cunningham was sent. Eleven people have recovered, according to the IDOC.

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.