CHICAGO - The officers who helped solve the murder of Andrew "AJ" Freund are being honored for their work on the case.
Twelve members of the Crystal Lake Police Department have received the Medal of Valor and will be recognized this week as "Most Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers of the Year," according to the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.
The officers will be honored at a ceremony on Friday in Tinley Park.
They were set to receive the award last year, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freund's parents first claimed the 5-year-old boy disappeared on the night of April 18, 2019.
Left to right: Andrew Freund, A.J. Freund and JoAnn Cunningham.
JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, Sr. were later charged with abusing the boy, causing his death and trying to hide the evidence.
"And so began some of the best police work ever seen in the state of Illinois, revealing terrible abuse of a boy by his addicted and troubled parents," said ILACP Executive Director Ed Wojcicki.
The twelve Crystal Lake officers who will be honored on Friday are:
- Sergeant Mike Gasparaitis - Supervised several search warrants at residence; supervised burial site/recovery efforts; served as department liaison to several outside assisting agencies.
- Detective Frank Houlihan - Conducted the execution of search warrants at the residence, secured and processed property; interviewed Andrew Freund in the initial days.
- Detective David Eitel - Case agent; conducted interviews on both suspects; worked collaboratively with FBI while interviewing Andrew Freund; present in interview when Freund confessed.
- Detective Jason Duncan - Instrumental with generating and presenting search warrants for social media, vehicles, and residence.
- Detective Dimitri Boulahanis - Conducted interviews on Joanne Freund at MCSO the morning the case was solved; conducted stationary surveillance activity.
- Detective Russ Will - Conducted stationary surveillance on the Freund residence the morning case was solved; made contact with Freund at residence that morning and successfully transported him to PD, where he soon thereafter confessed.
- Detective Jeff Mattson - Conducted stationary surveillance on the Freund residence the morning the case was solved; made contact with Freund at the residence that morning and successfully transported him to PD, where he soon thereafter confessed.
- Officer Chris Sanders - Assisted with search warrant executions and the collection and processing of evidence.
- Officer Zachary Morse - Assisted with search warrant executions and the collection and processing of evidence.
- Officer Scott Torkelson - Assisted with search warrant executions and the collection and processing of evidence.
- Officer Mike Maloney - Instrumental with generating and presenting search warrants for social media; obtained video from subpoena return that provided the ability to set up the final strategy for solving the case.
- Commander Ron Joseph - Provided overall direction of criminal investigation; worked in cooperation with several outside agencies.
The 12 officers were recognized privately last year with the ILACP Medal of Valor.
"That is why we invited them to our awards banquet this week in Tinley Park," said Executive Director Ed Wojcicki. "They will all likely say, as cops always do, that they were just doing the jobs they were trained to do. We want them to know that the rest of us in Illinois are deeply grateful for their service and their dedication to bringing a little boy’s murderers to justice. It’s just tragic that those killers were his parents."