The house may soon be demolished where five-year-old A.J. Freund lost his life, allegedly at the hands of his parents, Andrew “Drew” Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham. Both are in custody on $5 million bail each and face various charges in relation to his April 2019 murder.
The city of Crystal Lake, Illinois, has filed a complaint with McHenry County seeking demolition of the home at 94 Dole Avenue, declaring it “dangerous and unsafe” and estimating the cost of bringing the house up to code at around $100,000. Violations inside the house include:
- Mouse droppings
- Mold at a level above “elevated,” including visible mold on the ceilings in the kitchen and master bedroom
- Missing flooring and subflooring
- Trash, animal waste, and debris all throughout the house
- Missing plaster and drywall
- Locks on interior doors (does that send chills down your spine, or what?)
According to court documents, there are also thousands of dollars in liens against the property, which has been in foreclosure. A court conference is scheduled for October 9 to determine if the house should be demolished.
According to Craig Summerkamp, who was married to JoAnn Cunningham from May 2009 through January 2012, was once a beautiful woman “before the drugs took hold.”
Craig and JoAnn had no children together. During their relationship, JoAnn started complaining about aches and pains and obtained a prescription from a doctor for pain medication. Soon after, their relationship began tanking. “Our marriage started off well, and it was like a switch flipped in her head,” Craig told the Chicago Sun-Times. “She was a decent person, but then she got hooked on pills and it all went downhill super fast.”
During her divorce from Craig, JoAnn began a romantic relationship with her divorce attorney, A.J.’s father, Drew Freund. Unfortunately for their future son, A.J., the rest was history.
“I knew she wasn’t all there in the head, but I never thought she would go this far,” Craig said about A.J.’s murder.
My next updates concern the case of two-year-old Noah Tomlin. The last I reported, remains thought to be Noah’s were discovered in early July at the Hampton, Virginia NASA steam plant, where some of the city’s trash is incinerated. On Saturday, July 13, police were able to confirm with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science and the Medical Examiner’s Office that the remains were indeed those of Noah Tomlin.
Noah’s mother, Julia Tomlin, was seen in court today, where Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell described Julia as “unstable, a flight risk, and a danger to the community,” according to 13NewsNow; Julia’s public defender argued that Julia does not have a long criminal history and is not a danger to anyone, which directly contradicts Julia’s five months spent in prison in 2010 for felony child neglect after plopping her then one-year-old daughter onto a hot stove, resulting in burns and blisters on the child’s back, shoulders, and arms. Sounds harmless enough, right?!
The judge, who clearly is in possession of a brain, denied Julia’s bail request. She has been charged with three counts of felony child neglect, and although no one has yet been charged in connection with Noah’s death, further charges could be filed once the medical examiner’s report is complete. This could take 12 to 14 weeks, according to the district administrator for the Chief Medical Examiner.
On July 15, a tree on 1st Street in Buckroe Beach that had been fashioned into a memorial for Noah caught fire, resulting in the Hampton Fire Department responding to the blaze around 2:30 AM. Officials do not believe the fire was set intentionally, saying it is possible a candle was not fully extinguished or a cigarette ash near the tree could have sparked the fire. However, the citizens who maintain the memorial told WTKR News 3 that they believe someone set the fire on purpose.
“Last night was the first time in over a week someone wasn’t here ’til 3, 4 o’clock in the morning guarding this tree and this happens? Something is wrong,” said Jammie Abbot, who helped put together the memorial.
Unfortunately, all of the stuffed animals left in Noah’s memory were burnt and had to be thrown away, in addition to plants, signs, and other items. Volunteers spent the day attempting to repair and restore the memorial, saying the fire would not prevent them from honoring Noah.
Noah’s paternal grandmother, Cindy Jones, recently opened up to WTKR about her grandson’s short life. Her son, Justin Jones, is not only Noah’s father, but also the father of Julia Tomlin’s three oldest children, who are currently in the care of Cindy and her husband. She told the news station that she only met Noah a few times, but that he made quite an impression on everyone he met.
“He was just such a cuddly baby,” Cindy said. “If you see him at the supermarket, you’d walk up and go, ‘Aw, what a cute little baby,’ and you’d talk to him. That’s the kind of baby he was.” She continued, “He was quiet, loving, cute, had blue eyes like crazy, very quiet and acted kind of young for his age. He was just cute… he laughed — oh, he laughed a lot.”
The family has been struggling with Noah’s loss, Cindy shared. “We are going one day at a time. We are trying to piece together everything.”
She said the family makes frequent visits to Noah’s tree. “I know I can come out to this tree anytime I want and there’s someone here. There’s always someone here for us.”
It’s heartwarming to think about all of the community members who have dedicated themselves to maintaining Noah’s memorial, especially for the sake of those who knew and love him.
Remember 12-year-old Eduardo Posso, the dark-haired Florida boy with the sweet smile whose father and stepmother starved him to death in an Indiana motel bathtub? Great news: Monroe County, Indiana prosecutors have filed a notice with the court citing aggravating circumstances to support a sentence of life in prison without parole if 32-year-old Luis Eduardo Posso Jr. and 25-year-old Dayana Medina-Flores are convicted of Eduardo’s murder.
I am so on board with this idea. I absolutely cannot bring myself to rehash the details of Eduardo’s brutal, agonizing death due to starvation and abuse, but suffice it to say that Luis and Dayana deserve a life sentence and then some for what they did to this gorgeous little boy, who loved juggling.
Finally, we have some new details on the case of Hailey Bannister, the three-month-old girl who was beaten to death by her father, who is a police officer in Ewing Township, New Jersey. These new details, according to an affidavit from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, reveal a pattern of abuse perpetrated on tiny Hailey by her Neanderthal father, 31-year-old Daniel Bannister.
Per the affidavit, Hailey suffered bruises around her mouth and bruised ribs more than two months before she died, which means she was essentially a newborn when Daniel started using her as a live stress ball. The affidavit details text messages from Hailey’s mother, 29-year-old Catherine Bannister, in which she reveals to a friend that Daniel abused Hailey by pressing his hand against her face and squeezing her too tightly.
Catherine has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child for failing to report the abuse to authorities.
The affidavit, as reported by Patch.com, also provides a timeline of Daniel’s abuse:
- October 4, 2018: Catherine noticed bruising around Hailey’s mouth and questioned Daniel, who admitted to “pressing his finger against Hailey’s mouth as a method to stop her cries.”
- October 9: In a text message exchange with Hailey’s babysitter, Catherine described Daniel as “abusive.” She also said she told Daniel he would not touch Hailey again unless he was educated in early childhood development and that he needed to be gentler when handling the baby. The babysitter offered to let Catherine and both of the couple’s children live with her, but Catherine declined and asked the babysitter not to report Daniel’s abuse to authorities.
- November 1: Catherine found bruising on the left side of Hailey’s body, specifically in the rib area. She accused Daniel of gripping Hailey too tightly.
- November 23: Daniel was alone for most of the day with Hailey and her two-year-old brother. Hailey began demonstrating signs of suffering a skull fracture, including “excessive vomiting” that continued into the next day. (According to a doctor who reviewed Hailey’s medical records, she likely suffered her eventually fatal head injuries on November 23.)
- November 24: Daniel tried unsuccessfully to prevent Catherine from taking Hailey to the doctor. After the pediatrician, they took Hailey to the hospital.
- November 28: Catherine once again confronted Daniel about his attitude toward and abuse of Hailey.
- December 5: Catherine fed Hailey before putting her in her swing and heading to work. Daniel, who was home alone with the kids that day, checked on Hailey in her swing and found she was having a hard time breathing. He placed her on an ottoman and administered CPR while Catherine, who had come home to breastfeed the baby, called 911. EMS responded to the Bannister home and took the baby, not breathing and in cardiac arrest, to the hospital.
- December 7: While investigators interviewed Catherine, her sister interrupted to tell them Daniel was seeking an attorney and requested the interview end immediately.
- December 10: Investigators obtained a warrant to examine both of the Bannisters’ phone records.
- December 11: After several days in the hospital, Hailey was pronounced dead. Her death was ultimately ruled a homicide caused by complications from blunt impact trauma of the head.
Phone records reveal that Catherine was aware her daughter had suffered head injuries and suspected a concussion, although she failed to bring up her concerns with a doctor during any one of her myriad opportunities. The affidavit also mentions that after Hailey’s death, Catherine told police that Hailey was a “cranky baby” with whom “Daniel had a hard time bonding.”
Man… fuck this guy with a ten-foot cactus.
In my opinion, and this is just speculation on my part, but this sounds like a case of an abusive jerkwad whose wife was too afraid of him to go to the authorities. Catherine most likely thought he would hurt her or the kids even worse if she reported his behavior. Besides, he was a cop, which meant he was likely friendly with the same people to whom she would be reporting him. She probably felt both helpless and hopeless to such a degree that she was able to rationalize the situation internally, likely telling herself that if he really hurt one of the kids, she would leave him, but it had to be bad enough that he would be taken into custody and therefore no longer be a threat to them.
It’s not a pleasant position to be in. Talk about your proverbial “rock and a hard place.” As such, I’m reserving my judgment of Catherine for the time being, because I don’t believe this is a case of trying to protect her husband from prosecution but rather one of trying (and unfortunately failing) to protect herself and her kids from the wrath of an abusive monster.
Daniel will remain on unpaid suspension from the Ewing police force until his criminal case is resolved. Pre-trial detention hearings for both Daniel and Catherine took place on Tuesday, July 30 in Trenton, where a Mercer County judge ruled that Daniel will remain in jail until his trial. Catherine will be released on bail.
Assistant Prosecutor Michael Grillo said at the hearing, “A two or three-month-old simply doesn’t wake up with skull fractures, detached retinas, and fractured ribs. It just doesn’t happen; they’re not ambulatory.”
“This whole case is based off speculation,” said Daniel’s attorney, Jeffrey Garrigan. “It’s based upon what is a known fact that my client was having trouble bonding with his daughter, which was in the record. No one was hiding that.”
Catherine’s attorney denied claims that Catherine withheld information from doctors, declined medical care for Hailey, and knew the abuse was occurring, calling her a “good mom.” The couple’s two-year-old son is being cared for by his grandparents.
Stay tuned for a big update coming soon on the case of Charlette Dawkins, the three-year-old New Jersey girl who was killed by her mom’s then-boyfriend, Travis Graham.
For more of my coverage on these cases, click the child’s name below.
Sources: Patch.com, Northwest Herald, Chicago Sun-Times, WTKR, ABC 13NewsNow, The Ledger, The Trentonian, News 12 New Jersey