Flannery Fired Up: How the system failed A.J. Freund

On this edition of Flannery Fired Up, we discuss the brutal murder of 5-year old A.J. Freund with a veteran prosecutor of child abuse cases, Caidi Mammas Vanderporten. And we hear from leaders of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, who were grilled late Friday by members of an Illinois House Committee. DCFS had repeated contact with little A.J. and his drug-addicted parents, who are accused of viciously beating him to death and then trying to cover it up.  

Elgin’s Democratic Rep. Anna Moeller told the hearing how she was rescued from her own heroin-addicted, teenage mother. Moeller mournfully lamented that A.J. was not that lucky. She asked Anne Gold, DCFS deputy director for Child Protection, to explain what went wrong. Gold offered a general description of DCFS policy. The agency’s new acting director, Marc D. Smith, said it’s too early in their internal investigation to say for sure.

Also joining host Mike Flannery, the new director of the Illinois State Police. Brendan Kelly, was state’s attorney of Downstate St. Clair County for eight years before Gov. Pritzker appointed him to his new post. He tells Flannery about changes and reforms he hopes will make the troubled ISP crime lab more efficient. Many guests on previous broadcasts of Flannery Fired Up have complained about how long it takes for the crime lab to complete forensic tests – up to 14 months in some cases. Kelly said the state is studying new technology that would speed up that turn-around time, such as the “Rapid DNA” system now being deployed by police in New York City.  It returns results in 90 minutes.