‘I’d Rather Kill Myself Than Hurt My Child’ – CBS Chicago


CHICAGO (CBS) – In an exclusive interview earlier this year, JoAnn Cunningham told CBS 2’s Brad Edwards that she didn’t kill her son, A.J.

Today, she admitted it, pleading guilty to one count of first degree murder Thursday morning in McHenry County. She faces up to 60 years in prison when she is sentenced at a later date. She will not get parole.

Earlier this year, she was telling us a different story.

“I feel like this is getting worse in here for me the more I talk to you,” Cunningham told Edwards earlier this year.

However, she did not stop calling, or writing or talking.

“Who else do you talk to now?” Edwards asked during one of their interviews.

“Nobody,” Cunningham replied.

A.J. was her first son with a man who was once her divorce attorney, and now her co-defendant, Andrew Freund Sr.

DCFS painted a horrific picture of life inside their home.

Cunningham told Edwards that wasn’t true.

“We were a good, loving family,” he said.

Edwards: “JoAnn, a lot of people are just going to have a hard time believing that.”

Cunningham: “I’m sure they do, but I don’t care what they think.”

Andrew Sr. made the 911 call in this story that eventually transfixed the country. He said AJ was missing.

JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. have been charged with murder in the death of their son, 5-year-old A.J. Freund, whose body was found buried in a shallow grave seven miles from their home in Crystal Lake. (Source: Crystal Lake Police)

While JoAnn said she’d never hurt her son, she did before he was even born, using heroin throughout her pregnancy.

There were plenty of warning signs.

Edwards: “Police say on your phone there was a video of A.J. lying on a bare mattress in his bedroom, and you were berating him for urinating on his bed.”

Cunningham: ‘Well, I mean, wouldn’t any parent?

Edwards: “My question is why you would record that?”

Cunningham: “Because Drew asked me to record that and show them to him.”

Edwards: “How could you be upset with A.J. when you knew you were shooting up heroin when you were pregnant with him?”

Cunningham (crying): “Heroin. I don’t know. It’s like the devil.”

At another point in the interview, Cunningham is pressed on who killed her son.

Edwards: “I feel for you, but AJ’s dead.”

Cunningham: “I know.”

Edwards: “And somebody killed him.”

Cunningham: “I know.”

Edwards: “Who killed him?”

Cunningham: “I don’t know; I don’t know.”

Edwards: “I’m sorry, there’s only two options here: That you killed A.J. or Andrew killed A.J.”
Cunningham: “OK well, it wasn’t me. “

Edwards: “I’ve interviewed a lot of inmates, and I’ve heard a lot of different people cry. There is an innocent cry and there is a guilty cry–like a cry of ‘Oh my, God I’m responsible for this, I really messed up — it may not even be my fault, but I really effed up.’ Your cry sounds like the guilty cry. “

Cunningham: “Like a guilty cry.”

Edwards: “Yeah.”

Cunningham: “OK well I don’t know what to say to you.”

Edwards: “Do you take responsibility for this?”

Cunningham: “No, I’d rather kill myself than hurt my child or kill my child.”