From the Editor—Friday Reflections

The Beast That Failed

An Unnecessary Story of Poor Boy

May 3, 2019

His name was Andrew "A.J." Freund, Jr. According to news reports, the 5-year-old disappeared in mid-April from his parents' home in north suburban Chicago. They were distraught. What happened to A.J.?

Before the end of the month, A.J.'s body was found in a shallow grave. His parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., were charged with first-degree murder in the death of their son. A.J. "had died as a result of 'craniocerebral trauma' caused by 'multiple blunt force injuries'."

Authorities immediately became suspicious of A.J.'s parents shortly after they reported the boy missing on April 18. They had every reason to be. They had gone to the Freund home "on several occasions over the years, primarily for well-being checks and domestic violence situations, according the documents. The parents also have a history of narcotics abuse."

Cunningham has an older son from her first marriage:

Well before Andrew "A.J." Freund Jr. was even born, the slain boy's mother allegedly committed abuses so severe against a child the courts saw fit to remove him from her custody entirely, records obtained by show.

JoAnn Cunningham was living with Andrew Freund when a judge ruled in 2013 it was in the best interest of her oldest son to remain with his grandmother, according to court records filed in McHenry County, Illinois. ... According to Cunningham's mother, her grandson said he dealt with deplorable, violent and neglectful conditions.

More backstory:

Joanne Cunningham had been married previously [her second marriage], in May 2009, to Craig Summerkamp; they divorced in 2012 after she became addicted to drugs. During the divorce proceedings, Andrew Freund, Sr. saw Joanne in the hallway outside the courtroom and tried to console her; he ended up becoming her lawyer. Freund was licensed as a lawyer in 1984 by the Illinois Supreme Court. The divorce agreement allowed her to keep the house. Freund moved in with her and together they have had two children; the oldest is A.J. She is also 7-months pregnant. Freund is now 60; Cunningham is 36.

No report I've seen notes that Freund and Cunningham are not married. A.J. is one of a rising number of children born "out of wedlock." But it is fashionable on the part of celebrities and elites to have children as single parents or as unmarried couples. Today "out-of-wedlock" is deemed a medieval concept so it is no longer noticed or considered valid.

A.J.'s parents also received 17 visits from Child Protective Services in 5 years. But A.J. was obviously not protected. One neighbor claims that every one of A.J.'s neighbors had called the Department of Children and Family Services at one time or another.

Consider: more than 60,000 calls were made last year to DCFS in Illinois, specifically about child abuse or neglect. That averages to 165 calls per day, nearly 7 calls every hour. If each filed complaint takes 9 minutes, a 24/7 operator would be on the phone continuously.

The unmentionable elephant in the room: the disintegration of the natural family and rejection of the sexual moral tradition. I don't have to justify my strong suspicion that DCFS receives many more calls than it used to. Or that child abuse is way up since Roe v. Wade, when abortion was predicted to diminish child abuse ("Abortion will mean every child will be a wanted child!").

What about DCFS's failures? Consider this story from an article in upcoming issue of Salvo Magazine:

This is not to question the motives of well-intentioned public officials. It is to acknowledge the nature of the bureaucratic beast. I am reminded of the late U.S. Senator Phil Gramm's comments during hearings about education reform in the 1990s. Gramm was bantering with a would-be administrator who favored granting control of the education system to the central government. Gramm stated that his own approach to education policy was based on the fact that "I care more about my children than you do."

The bureaucrat responded, "No, you don't."

To which Senator Gramm replied, "Okay, what are their names?

Even A.J.'s neighbors surely cared more about A.J. than the state can or ever will. They called the state for help. It failed. The neighbors at least knew A.J.'s name, one they will never forget without great sorrow. It shouldn't have happened. Kyrie eleison! Memory eternal, little one.

Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,

James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James

—James M. Kushiner is Executive Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James.