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Crime & Courts

Lender successfully forecloses on property where parents allegedly killed AJ Freund

Lenders were successful Tuesday in their foreclosure efforts against the 94 Dole Ave., Crystal Lake property belonging to accused child killers Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham.
Lenders were successful Tuesday in their foreclosure efforts against the 94 Dole Ave., Crystal Lake property belonging to accused child killers Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham.

The clock has begun ticking toward the sale of the property where police say 5-year-old AJ Freund died after his parents beat him and forced him into a cold shower.

A judge's ruling Tuesday marked the beginning of a three-month redemption period, during which accused child killers Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham could prevent the house from going to sale if they pay the 107,536 owed on the 94 Dole Ave., Crystal Lake property.

If they don't pay, the house will go to bid at a public auction in November. A judge would then need to approve the sale once a winning bid is placed.

Cunningham and Freund both are charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a death, among other offenses, in connection with AJ's death. Freund falsely reported his son missing the morning of April 18. On April 24, he led police to the rural Woodstock area where investigators discovered the boy's body in a shallow grave, police have said.

Lenders began their attempt to foreclose on Freund's Crystal Lake property about a year before neighbors began referring to it as "the house of horrors."

On March 14, 2017, Homes Sites LLC gave Cunningham and Freund a $100,000 loan, but they defaulted on payments the following year. In July 2018, Home Sites LLC filed for foreclosure, citing defaulted payments in the amount of $98,909. The lenders subsequently backed out of the proceedings and real estate investor William Progar took their place.

Freund originally bought the property for $137,500 in 1990, records show. Although he successfully disputed a Nov. 21 ruling that allowed for foreclosure and sale of the property, the lenders again sought to foreclose, claiming Freund and Cunningham haven’t properly disputed the allegations against them, or shown proof of payments.

Tuesday's foreclosure judgment was entered by default after Freund failed to respond to an Aug. 2 court filing that claimed he now owed $107,536 on the property.

Cunningham asked the judge Tuesday whether a friend could retrieve photographs from the home before it goes to sale. Although Freund still is the owner of the property, he expressed concern about the house having been boarded up, and worried that if they sent someone to collect their belongings from the house, they wouldn't be able to get inside.

The city of Crystal Lake secured the property shortly after Freund and Cunningham's April 24 arrest. In addition to health concerns such as black mold inside the home, police dealt with trespassers outside the house early on, according to emails between city employees.

The city has filed its own complaint in McHenry County court, seeking to demolish the home. Doing so would bring the land's value to about $11,000, according to the complaint. The demolition would cost an estimated $17,000, compared with the $103,290 it would take to bring the home up to city code, according to one Crystal Lake construction company’s estimate.

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