Murdered boy, 5, told doc 'maybe mummy didn't mean to hurt me' shortly before 'parents tortured then killed him'

A MURDERED five-year-old boy told a doctor "maybe mommy didn't mean to hurt me" five months before he was found wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave.

AJ Freund was discovered dead on Wednesday buried in a field in Illinois.

A pathologist found he died from head trauma caused by blunt force injuries, according to a coroner's report.

His parents, 60-year-old lawyer Andrew Freund and cosmetologist JoAnn Cunningham, 36, are facing five counts of murder each.

Prosecutors claim they forced their son to stand in a cold shower while they beat him.

Birth tests revealed AJ had opiates in his bloodstream, the first of many troubling signals about danger to the boy.

He was removed from the home but returned eight months later after his parents took parenting classes and entered a drug treatment programme.

A report from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services revealed how there had then been numerous child welfare hotline calls about AJ's troubled home life.

There had been concerns about the dilapidated and filthy house that stunk of dog poo, as well as drug abuse by AJ's parents.

There were so many calls made, so many signs of trouble and still nothing was done

A caseworker last visited the home in December, but bruising on AJ was attributed to the family dog.

The case was closed in January despite a note in his file that indicated a "doctor was concerned because AJ told him: "Maybe someone hit me with a belt. Maybe Mommy didn't mean to hurt me.'"

Anne Gold, DCFS associate deputy for child protection, admitted: "That piece was missed".

She said a child abuse expert should have been consulted at that stage.

The caseworker and supervisor responsible for AJ's case have been moved to administrative duty with no work on family cases while an urgent review is carried out.

The agency said it would also investigate all cases handled by the two employees.

Seven months earlier, another investigation into a report of "odd bruising" on AJ's face was also shut down. The agency determined the report to be unfounded.

AJ is the third child under the agency's watch to die since February.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat who chairs the House Adoption and Child Welfare Committee, said: "There were so many calls made, so many signs of trouble and still nothing was done."

His parents reported him missing April 19.

His body was found on April 24 a few miles from the family's home in Crystal Lake, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.

They appeared in court on Thursday on first-degree murder and other charges. Bail was set at $5million for each parent.

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