The Illinois couple accused of killing their 5-year-old son before making public appeals for his safe return allegedly beat the boy to death after he lied about soiling his underwear, according to newly-released court documents.
Investigators allege in a search warrant filed with the court on April 29 that Andrew Freund Sr., 60, admitted to police that he and JoAnn Cunningham, 36, forced their son Andrew “A.J.” Freund to take a cold, 20-minute shower on April 14 before sending him off to bed “cold, wet and naked.”
The punishment was for A.J.’s lying about soiling his underwear, the warrant states.
According to the documents, obtained by PEOPLE, the father allegedly “explained that he wanted JoAnn to stop with the hard physical beatings and do some less violent form of punishment.”
The couple, the warrant alleges, allegedly decided instead to subject their son to cold, prolonged showers.
A.J.’s parents have both been arrested on murder and other charges.
Both are being held on $5 million bond.
A.J.’s body was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in Woodstock, Illinois, on April 24, less than a week after his father called 911 to report him missing from their home in nearby Crystal Lake.
The new filing alleges both parents confessed to police after being confronted with a “forensic analysis of cell phone data,” which showed their phones pinged near where the boy’s body was discovered.
The child’s parents allegedly killed him by beating him after forcing him to stand in a cold shower “for an extended” period of time, according to the criminal complaint against the couple obtained by PEOPLE.
According to the new documents, A.J.’s brother allegedly told police that when he asked his mother what had happened to his sibling, she told him A.J. had fallen “down the stairs and had a lot of owies.”
Attorneys for the couple could not be reached for comment.
Family members issued a statement this week about the child’s untimely death through their attorney.
The statement, obtained by PEOPLE, says, “We, the family that lovingly cared for Andrew (AJ) during the first 18 months of his life and were then allowed to be in his life for another 26 months until the parents abruptly prevented us from having any further contact with him, want everyone to know that AJ was loved by us with all our hearts.”
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It continues: “With his brave short life, AJ made the ultimate sacrifice to save his younger brother and unborn sibling.”
“His life shall not be in vain,” it concludes. “AJ will always be our little superhero.”
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