Missing Crystal Lake boy didn't leave home on foot, police say

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -- As investigators on Saturday entered the third day of searching for a 5-year-old boy missing from his Crystal Lake home, state child welfare officials revealed they’ve been involved with his family off and on since he was born.

Police in the northwest suburb on Friday said they don’t think Andrew “AJ” Freund ever left the home on foot since he reportedly was last seen about 9 p.m. Wednesday, and more than a day of exhaustive canvassing didn’t turn up any signs of the boy.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services confirmed Saturday that its investigators have had repeated contact with Andrew’s family since he was born with opiates in his system in 2013.

He was taken into DCFS custody then and placed into a foster home less than a month after he was born, DCFS officials said, before he was returned to his birth parents in June 2015.

DCFS investigators returned twice in 2018 to investigate separate allegations of neglect, both of which were deemed unfounded, the agency said.

According to Crystal Lake police, Andrew’s parents have said they put the boy to bed but couldn’t find him when they woke up Thursday morning.

Police dogs searching for Andrew’s scent have only detected it inside the home, “indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” police said.

Officers from 15 police agencies and FBI agents searched a 373-acre area on Thursday, in addition to a 497-acre aerial search conducted using drones, police said. Boats and sonar teams also searched Crystal Lake.

No AMBER alert has been issued and police said there is no evidence to suggest that an abduction has occurred. Andrew’s younger brother was placed in another home under a DCFS safety plan, the agency said.

“Information obtained currently has police focusing on the residence,” the department wrote in a statement.

Andrew is described as a 3-foot-5, 70-pound boy with short, blond hair, police said. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants.

He was also wearing green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shoes, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

His disappearance remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 815-356-3620 or text an anonymous tip to 847411 with “CLPDTIP” at the beginning of the message.