CHICAGO – A top FBI official said Monday that a body found in an SUV is believed to be that of Jennifer Hudson’s missing 7-year-old nephew, the focus of a desperate search since the Oscar winner’s mother and brother were found shot to death in their home three days earlier.
While the body has not been positively identified, FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole said authorities believe it to be that of Julian King, who also lived in the home.
Chicago police said the body of a black male child was found shortly after 7 a.m. in the rear seat of an SUV. An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.
The SUV was found parked on the street in a neighborhood of brownstone homes and apartment buildings, and matched the one sought in an Amber Alert issued after Hudson’s mother and brother were found slain Friday, police Cmdr. Wayne Gulliford said.
In Washington, Pistole said at a news conference on child exploitation that authorities found a body “who we believe to be the missing victim in Chicago, the nephew of Jennifer Hudson. We are working with Chicago police to get a positive identification of the victim.”
Hudson had offered $100,000 Sunday for information leading to Julian’s safe return. He is the son of Jennifer Hudson’s sister, Julia Hudson. Telephone and e-mail messages left Monday for Hudson’s publicist, who had been releasing statements on behalf of the family, were not answered.
Chicago police have characterized the killings as “domestic related” and have been questioning William Balfour, who is the estranged husband of Julia Hudson and is being held in state custody on a parole violation. Balfour is not the boy’s father and has not been charged in the slayings.
Balfour, 27, was taken into custody Friday by Chicago police for questioning in the killings. On Sunday, he was transferred to the Illinois Department of Corrections “based on his active parole violation unrelated to this investigation.”
Records from the Corrections Department show Balfour is on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle.
Balfour’s mother, Michele Balfour, has said Hudson’s mother kicked Balfour out of the family home last winter. She denied her son had anything to do with the killings.
Corrections spokeswoman Januari Smith said Balfour would probably remain in state custody until the Illinois Prisoner Review Board looked at his case. She would not say where Balfour was being held, and it was unclear whether Balfour had an attorney.
Hudson, who won an Academy Award in 2007 for her role in “Dreamgirls,” was in Chicago during the weekend. The medical examiner’s office confirmed Hudson, 27, identified the bodies of her mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson. The deaths were ruled homicides.
Neighbors and well-wishers brought stuffed animals and other items to a makeshift memorial outside Donerson’s two-story white clapboard home as news of Monday’s discovery spread.
“Everybody knows Jennifer Hudson, but I would be here even if it was little Suzy on the corner,” said Tacara Juarez, 26, who doesn’t know the family but lives in the neighborhood.
On Sunday, Hudson appealed to the public for help, offering the reward and asking any information be given to Chicago police.
“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,” said a statement from her publicist.
Associated Press writers Carla K. Johnson and Michael Tarm contributed to this report.
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