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Mother of missing boy describes son as 'super sharp and smart' and a 'good big brother' who loves to draw

Amanda Marrazzo, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Ridings said Cunningham recently chose to stay with a friend because investigators left the house uninhabitable and it was "depressing" to be in the home without her children.

Ridings said that despite all the "chaos" left behind after police searches, which include dishes and clothing strewn around the home as well as a destroyed couch, the home has "all signs of an ordinary household with children."

"When I was in the home I saw many pictures and drawings on the walls that the kids had made and toys and kid stuff all over," Ridings said.

She said the parents were separated during hourslong questioning Thursday at the Crystal Lake Police Department and have since not been "together as to any search, or strategy on what to do next."

"I don't know how they were functioning before AJ went missing so I can't say if this is really unusual or just the natural extension of whatever estranged relationship they had," she said.

Cunningham said she has not seen her younger son, Parker, since he was taken Thursday by the Department of Children and Family Services and placed with a family member.

 

Ridings said Cunningham has found all of the attention from the media and neighbors overwhelming, but she appreciates the prayers and gestures of goodwill from the community.

At a vigil held at Saturday night at Crystal Lake Main Beach hundreds gathered, held candles and prayed for the child's safe return home.

Michelle Woodmancy of Crystal Lake could hardly speak as she tried to say why she attended the vigil.

"I just hope and pray he's somewhere, he's OK," she said, adding she is a mom and a grandma and was just dyeing eggs with her own family. "He should be like every little boy, seeing the Easter bunny, dying eggs. It breaks my heart."

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