Jennifer Hudson's Nephew Found Dead

The mother and brother of Jennifer Hudson were found fatally shot Friday at a South Side home. Police found the body of her 7-year-old nephew on Monday.

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By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CHICAGO, Oct. 27 -- The grim search for singer-actress Jennifer Hudson's 7-year-old nephew ended in sadness Monday on an anonymous residential street miles from the home where his grandmother and uncle were slain last week.

Julian King's body was discovered in the back seat of a 1994 Chevrolet Suburban that belonged to his uncle and had vanished after the killings. The boy had been shot several times.

Police had been searching for the vehicle since Friday, when the bodies of Hudson's mother and brother, Darnell Donerson and Jason Hudson, were found in the house they shared in the violence-prone Englewood neighborhood on the city's South Side.

Police superintendent Jody Weis somberly announced the news. "Today, a family and a community are grieving," he told reporters this afternoon.

The discovery came one day after Hudson, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in "Dreamgirls," offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Julian, her sister Julia's son.

No one has been charged in the case, but William Balfour, the principal suspect in the deaths of Donerson, 57, and Jason Hudson, 29, is in custody. Balfour, the estranged husband of Julia Hudson, is not Julian's father. The two were married in 2006, shortly after his release from prison on attempted murder and carjacking charges.

Balfour, 27, denied any role in the killings after his arrest on Friday, police reported. Held on a parole violation, he has not been charged in this case. Media reports said Balfour lived with his in-laws until a falling-out in December.

Weis said police are confident the crime will be solved. He mentioned evidence taken at the scene of the shootings and from the white Suburban where Julian King's body was found.

Weis had already been under pressure to curb Chicago's fast-rising murder rate. So far this year, 429 people have been killed in the city of 3 million, compared with 407 in all of 2007.

During the past school year alone, 26 students were killed by gunfire in a city where three out of four homicides are committed with firearms.

Weis, recruited from the FBI by Mayor Richard M. Daley (D), said more than half the killings are done by gangs. He announced last week the creation of a "mobile strike force" to challenge an estimated 75 gangs with 75,000 members.

Should the Hudson family slayings prove to be the result of a domestic dispute, they will stand out from countless other such deaths that go largely unreported by the media. The story has dominated front pages and local newscasts for three days in a community that savored Jennifer Hudson's rise to stardom and her mother's refusal to move to more prosperous surroundings.

Outside the home where Donerson and Jason Hudson were killed, well-wishers have left a menagerie of stuffed animals and tributes of all kinds. Demonstrators held "Stop the Violence" signs on Monday. Until news of the SUV's discovery, they held out hope that perhaps Julian had been spared.


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