Jennifer Hudson Identifies Nephew's Body

Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson has identified a body found in a sport utility vehicle as that of her missing nephew. The 7-year-old was the focus of a frantic search since Hudson's mother and brother were found shot dead last week.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News. Now, to the latest in a sad story from Chicago. The Oscar winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson has identified the body of her 7-year-old nephew. He was found dead this morning in an SUV. Police are investigating his death and the murders of Hudson's mother and her brother. They were found shot to death in their home on Friday. NPR's Cheryl Corley joins us from Chicago. Hello, Cheryl.

CHERYL CORLEY: Hello.

NORRIS: Could you walk us through what's happened so far?

CORLEY: Well, it all started, as you mentioned, on Friday. That's when authorities found Darnell Donerson, Jennifer Hudson's 57-year-old mother, and her brother, 29-year-old Jason Hudson, dead in the home they shared on the city's south side. They were found by a relative. There didn't seem to be any forced entry. And at that time, Hudson's nephew, seven-year-old Julian King, was missing, and that's when police issued an amber alert for Julian and listed the SUV that Jason Hudson owned, a white Suburban. That's the vehicle he was last seen in. Jennifer Hudson had offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to her nephew's safe return. Her sister and the boy's father had gone on television asking for his safe return, but that was not to be.

NORRIS: And when this SUV was first found earlier today, the police were pretty tight-lipped, but they have had a press conference this afternoon. What did they say at that point?

CORLEY: Well, at that point, they confirmed that it was Julian King, the seven-year-old who was found in the back of the SUV. They said that this investigation continues, that they are interviewing witnesses, that they are looking at video from cameras that are situated throughout the city. Superintendent Jody Weiss also said that the Hudson family has been a key participant in this investigation. And here's what he said when he was asked if he thought that these murders would be solved.

Mr. JODY WEISS (Superintendent, Chicago Police Department): I think they're pretty optimistic. You've got two crime scenes. Oftentimes, there's a lot of evidence left at a crime scene, so I'm very confident that our forensic technicians would go through both areas with a fine-toothed comb. And I suspect they will have some evidence that will link us to the killer.

CORLEY: And that was, of course, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weiss.

NORRIS: And there has been an arrest, but police are not calling the individual an actual suspect. He is Hudson's brother-in-law. What more do we know about him?

CORLEY: Well, he's 27 years old. His name is William Balfour. He is seven-year-old Julian King's stepfather, and he is estranged from Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson. Balfour has not been charged in connection with the slayings. Authorities call him a person of interest. He had apparently lived in the family home at one point, and Balfour's mother has spoken out. She says that Jennifer Hudson's mother had kicked Balfour out of the house last winter, but she says her son had nothing to do with these killings. The authorities here initially said the murders were domestic-related, but they've also said that they don't have a motive for the murders.

NORRIS: Even as Jennifer Hudson's star continue to rise, she's maintained a very tight connection with her family.

CORLEY: Mmm.

NORRIS: What's been the reaction there in Chicago?

CORLEY: Well, as you can imagine, this has been a really terrible tragedy for the Hudson family. And she has a wide and enthusiastic following here. She was on American Idol, won an Oscar for best supporting actress for a role in "Dreamgirls." There have been prayer vigils, makeshift memorials at the family home. Supporters plan to hold another vigil tonight. And everyone is just really heartbroken about this for one of the hometown heroes here.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Cheryl Corley speaking to us from Chicago about the tragedy involving the family of the actress and singer Jennifer Hudson. You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.

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