Thousands honor AJ Freund at Crystal Lake visitation

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — Thousands of people have converged on a northern Illinois funeral home to pay respects to a 5-year-old boy whose parents have been charged with his murder.

The opportunity to file past the body of AJ Freunds' closed casket Friday at Davenport Funeral Home in Crystal Lake was a chance for a town to come together and grieve the loss of a boy made known by his tragic death.

Barbara Verseman of Crystal Lake says although she still wants to know why the boy was killed, she is "taking comfort that he's in a better place."

The boy's parents, 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham and 60-year-old Andrew "AJ" Freund Sr., are due in court next week for a preliminary hearing. Authorities accuse the parents in the boy's beating death . Police found his body in a shallow grave covered with straw April 24, nine days after authorities say he died and a week after his parents reported him missing .

An obituary on the funeral home's website said AJ "was an extremely smart and friendly boy" who couldn't wait to start kindergarten in the fall.

A judge Friday appointed Special Public Defender Henry Sugden to represent Freund Sr. An attorney from the McHenry County Public Defender's Office represents Cunningham. The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald reports Freund was appointed a special public defender to avoid a conflict of interest.

Freund and Cunningham are next due in court May 10.

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