Police Confirm Body Found Is Hudson's Missing Nephew

Julian King's body was found in the back seat of an SUV.

October 26, 2008, 10:34 AM

Oct. 27, 2008 — -- The body found in a sports utility vehicle on Chicago's West Side Monday morning has been identified as Julian King, the 7-year-old nephew of Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis confirmed the Hudson family's worst fears at a press conference Monday afternoon.

The 7-year-old's body was found in the back seat of a white Chevrolet Suburban that police had been looking for since Friday, when he went missing and Hudson's mother and brother were found shot to death in their home on Chicago's South Side.

Police discovered Julian's body and the missing vehicle about 10 miles southeast of the Hudson family home.

According to law enforcement sources quoted in the Chicago Tribune Monday afternoon, King had been shot multiple times.

"We're just sad. We're going through this stage where we're just sad and in shock," Hudson's aunt, Dorothy Hudson, told the Associated Press Monday. She and her husband, John, own a Chicago funeral home that plans to handle arrangements for the family.

Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, was found dead on the living room floor by her other daughter, Julia Hudson. Officers later discovered Hudson's brother, Jason Hudson, 29, in a bedroom.

Hudson's representative Christine Tripicchio said that "no statement from Jennifer or the family will be issued at this time, understandably."

Earlier, there were reports that one of Hudson's personal assistants named Jay called Fox News shortly after the police discovery of the body and said Hudson was "so distraught she cannot talk."

Police have not filed any charges in the murders, but they have been questioning a "person of interest," William Balfour, the estranged husband of Julia Hudson, Julian King's mother and Hudson's sister. Balfour is not Julian's father.

Records from the Illinois Department of Corrections show Balfour, 27, is on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle.

According to their marriage license, Balfour and Julia Hudson were married on Nov. 14, 2006. Neighbors and his family members said the couple had been separated for about a year.

Balfour's mother, Michelle Davis Balfour, said Donerson had ordered Balfour to move out of the family's home last winter, according to local reports.

According to neighbor Bernice Russell there was "a lot of tension," between the pair, and Russell overheard another neighbor say that Balfour had threatened to kidnap Julia son a couple weeks ago.

Russell said as far as she knew, Balfour was living with his girlfriend, with whom he was expecting a child. The Tribune reported that police had interviewed her and that her account contradicted Balfour's alibi the day of the killings.

Russell's husband Joe said he had been "very dismayed" by the slayings. "I've never seen this kind of violence before," he said about his neighborhood of 17 years. "They were nice people."

The news of Julian's death comes a day after Hudson made a public plea online asking aid in finding her missing nephew.

The Oscar-winning actress and singer, used a MySpace blog entry Sundayto express her thanks and ask for aid in finding her then-missing nephew and information in the shooting deaths of her mother and brother.

"Thank you all for your prayers and your calls," the blog entry said. "Please keep praying for our family and that we get Julian King back home safely. If anyone has any information about his whereabouts, please contact the authorities immediately. ... Once again, thank you all for being there for us through this tough time."

Hudson announced late Sunday, through her publicist, that she was offering a $100,000 reward for Julian's return.

"Jennifer Hudson and her family are offering a reward of $100,000 for the safe return of her nephew Julian King, who has been missing since Friday, Oct. 24," the statement released by Lisa Kasteler said. "We ask that all inquiries be directed to the Chicago Police Department, Area 1 Detective Division at 312/747-8380. Jennifer and her family appreciate the enormous amount of love, support and prayers they have received while she and her family try to cope with this tragedy and continue the search for Julian."

Julia Hudson, the boy's mother and Jennifer's sister, held a news conference Saturday to plead for her son's safe return.

In the impoverished South Side Chicago neighborhood where the singer and actress grew up and which she often credited for her success, her sister Julia Hudson stood fighting back tears.

"All I ask, I don't care who you are, just let the baby go. Please," Julia Hudson said Saturday before a crowd from the podium of the Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church, where her sister sang as a child. "My biggest fear has already happened. My greatest hope is finding my child."

With Greg King, the boy's father, beside her, Julia Hudson expressed her belief that Julian was still alive and added that her brother's white truck was missing.

"I know he's out there," said Julia Hudson, who discovered the bodies of her mother and brother Friday at the family's Englewood home and soon realized her son was missing. "Just let him go. Put him on the side of the street. He'll sit there. Somebody will see him. He'll probably cry until somebody comes along.

"I just want my son. That's all I have to say. Please just let my baby go. He didn't do nothing to nobody, nobody. He don't deserve this," she said.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who shares the Hudsons' Chicago hometown, issued a statement Saturday:

"Michelle and I were absolutely heartbroken to learn about this unimaginable tragedy, and we want Jennifer to know that she is in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "We also pray for the swift and safe return of her young nephew."

Jennifer Hudson sang the national anthem during the Democratic National Convention in August after a personal request from Obama's camp.

Autopsy results released Saturday showed that Jennifer Hudson's mother and her brother died of gunshot wounds, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Their deaths were ruled homicides.

While Julia Hudson did not address her relationship with William Balfour, the news media are reporting that Balfour is the "person of interest" who was named in the Amber Alert after Julian's disappearance.

Chicago police have confirmed that they have someone in custody but have not identified the person.

They transferred custody Sunday to state authorities.

No one has been charged in the disappearance or murders.

"From what we know right now, it appears to be some type of domestic situation, but that's very preliminary," Weis said.

Mourners Show Jennifer Hudson Support

Balfour, who was paroled two years ago after serving seven years in jail for attempted murder and other crimes, has been referred to as Julia Hudson's estranged husband by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

His mother said he is innocent and had nothing to do with the tragic events.

"This is not my son that did this," a very distraught Michelle Davis Balfour said. "You cannot say my child did this to that girl. He loved Julia. He loved Julia's mother. My God, he put that girl's mother before me."

Mourners have showed an outpouring of emotion outside the family house, where the red Toyota that Jennifer Hudson bought for her mother sits with a birthday card for the missing Julian in the backseat.

Neighbors said Jennifer Hudson had urged her mother to leave the high-crime neighborhood but, after having lived there for decades, her mom told her it was her home.

The tragic events come just before Jennifer Hudson was scheduled to embark on a world tour today to promote her self-titled debut album with its chart-topping single, "Spotlight."

Hudson, whose star had been on the rise after she was ousted on season 3 of "American Idol," was featured in the summer blockbuster "Sex and the City" and stars in the film "The Secret Life of Bees."

In 2007, she hit superstardom with her debut film role in "Dreamgirls," earning a best supporting actress Academy Award for her role as rising singer turned down-and-out single mother Efie White -- a role Hudson said she always wanted to play.

The singer also recently announced her engagement to David Otunga, best known for his stint on VH1's reality show "I Love New York."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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