Hudson Slayings Latest in Chicago's Crime Increase

Chicago's police chief today said he is confident authorities will find the clues to solve the murders of actress Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew.

"I suspect we'll have some evidence that will link us to the killer," Police Superintendent Jody Weis told The Associated Press.

Surveillance cameras throughout the city may have caught images that could aid the investigation, he said.

But even with a suspect in custody and an outraged community calling for an end to such violence, some residents questioned how clues to the crime remained in plain sight in the South Side Chicago neighborhood even as police put out an Amber Alert Friday to search for Hudson's 7-year-old nephew, Julian King.

Law enforcement searched for the car and the boy all weekend and both were just 10 miles southeast of the crime scene.

"It was there since Saturday," said John Louden, who spotted the SUV, checked the license plate and alerted police.

He and Lynette Louden discovered the car by accident as they were walking their Chihuahua Monday morning.

Police discovered Julian's body, with multiple gunshot wounds, in the back seat of a white Chevrolet Suburban.

"They opened up the door and one of the police said the baby is in there. And when he did I started hollering, 'Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus, not the baby,'" 47-year-old Lynette Louden said.

Julian's autopsy is planned for later today.

Hudson's mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, was found dead on the living room floor by her sister, Julia Hudson Friday, and officers later discovered the Oscar winner's brother, 29-year-old Jason Hudson, in a bedroom of the family home.

"This should have never happened," said Faye Bell, a neighbor to the Hudson family.

A Community's Response

Since the killings, the crime-ridden neighborhood to which Hudson previously had credited her success, has started a vigil outside the crime scene and begun to fight back against transgressions that have gripped the neighborhood.

"It's terrible," resident Kim Brown said. "It's ridiculous here. They just shoot, kill people for no reason."

In an area where gunfire is the norm and some have become desensitized to the echo of firearm chambers, one neighbor said he wasn't surprised when no one called police after shots were fired inside the Hudson home.

"Gunshots around here is a natural thing," a young male neighbor said. "You hear so much, people won't call the cops no more."

Community activist Tio Hardiman said, "It happens at least once a week, OK, people being shot. That's just the way it is. Violence has become the norm. A lot of people have become desensitized when it comes to the issue of violence."

Chicago's Crime Troubles

And while violent crime is down slightly nationwide, according to FBI stats for 2007, and domestic homicides are also on the decline, according to the Bureau of Statistics, since the spring Chicago has received nationwide attention for its increased violence.

The Hudson family slayings are just the latest example in a city besieged by violence. Indeed, the Windy City saw murders rise 18 percent from January to August, compared to the same period last year, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Motive for Murder

A motive for the slayings remains unclear, but police said Julia Hudson's estranged husband, William Balfour, is a suspect. Police have been holding the 27-year-old, who is on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle.

Authorities have described the incident as "domestic related."

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

But Balfour's mother said there was no way her son had anything to do with the crimes, adding he would never hurt his wife or stepson.

"This is not my son that did this," a 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."

Michelle Davis Balfour said Donerson had ordered her son 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's 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 of his neighborhood of 17 years. "They were nice people."

Now Hudson, who is experiencing great success with her recently released debut album, and her family are planning three funerals.

"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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.