WOODSTOCK, Ill. (WLS) — The bench trial for two former DCFS caseworkers charged in connection with the murder of a five-year-old boy in McHenry County will continue Tuesday morning
A.J. Freund suffered abuse and torture, and was killed in 2019 at the hands of his parents at their home in Crystal Lake. Police found the boy’s body buried in a shallow grave in a field near Woodstock.
The police officer who said she responded to a call from A.J.’s mother several months before his death was overcome with emotion while recalling her concerns about returning the boy to his parents.
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Crystal Lake Police Officer Kimberley Shipbaugh said she contacted the Department of Children and Family Services after seeing A.J.’s injury and what she called the deplorable living conditions in his home.
Prosecutors showed pictures of the home, which they said had animal feces and urine on the floor and junk piled everywhere.
“I told him, ‘There is no way children should be going back to that residence,'” Shipbaugh said.
But, DCFS did return the boy to his parents. His body was discovered six days after his parents reported him missing in April 2019.
Andrew Freund sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder of son AJ in Crystal Lake
JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund have both been convicted and are now serving time for the A.J.’s death. Andrew was sentenced to 30 years in prison JoAnn Cunningham was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Former DCFS case worker Carlos Acosta and former DCFS supervisor Andrew Polovin are both facing multiple felony counts related to the case.
“The defendants closed this case without taking any protective action, and because of that, A.J. is dead and buried, going on four years now, when he should have just started fourth grade,” said McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.
The judge also heard testimony from an emergency room doctor, who claimed she also had concerns about A.J.’s injuries and about sending him back to the custody of his parents.
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Both Acosta and Polovin are being tried together. Their attorneys said they had no way of knowing A.J. was in potential danger.
“Illinois law strongly favors keeping children in their homes with their parents. If he would have wanted to start protective service on that day, he would have had to provide that there was an immediate and urgent to remove from the home,” said defense attorney Matthew McQuaid.
The trial is expected to last a week. The judge is allowing several police reports to be presented as evidence at trial.