Jennifer Hudson’s seven-year-old nephew was found dead in the back of a car three days after the Oscar-winning actress’s mother and brother were shot dead, US authorities said today.
Police and FBI agents launched a search for the boy after his grandmother and brother were shot dead in a “domestic related” incident in their Chicago home on Friday.
His body was found shortly after 7am in the rear seat of a white SUV parked in a neighbourhood of brownstone homes and apartment buildings about 10 miles from the family’s home, Chicago police confirmed tonight.
William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia, has been questioned by police, is a suspect in the “double homicide investigation”, and is being held in state custody on a parole violation.
No one has been charged over the deaths.
Police commander Wayne Gulliford said the vehicle matched the one sought in an Amber Alert issued after the bodies of Julian’s grandmother, 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, and his uncle Jason Hudson, 29, were found in the home they shared on the city’s South Side on Friday.
Hudson had offered a $100,000 (€80,000) reward for the safe return of her nephew Julian, the son of Hudson’s sister Julia.
Hudson’s aunt, Dorothy Hudson, said: “We’re just sad. We’re going through this stage where we’re just sad and in shock.”
Lynette Louden, 47, said she called police about the SUV across the street from her house after her family’s Chihuahua started barking at it.
Some neighbours said they had not seen the vehicle before today, but Ms Louden said it had been there since at least Saturday.
“I only hoped the body wasn’t in there,” she said.
“When they said that it was, I cried.”
Neighbours and well-wishers brought stuffed animals and other items to a makeshift memorial outside Ms Donerson’s two-storey home earlier today.
Tacara Juarez, 26, who did not know the family but lives in the neighbourhood, said: “Everybody knows Jennifer Hudson, but I would be here even if it was little Suzy on the corner.”
On Sunday, the Dreamgirls actress’s publicist Lisa Kasteler said: “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.”
Police said they did not have a motive for the killings but called the case “domestic related”.
Ms Bond said Balfour, who had been in police custody since Friday, was transferred to the Illinois Department of Corrections yesterday “based on his active parole violation unrelated to this investigation”.
Records from the Corrections Department showed Balfour was on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle.
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.
His mother, Michele Balfour, has denied he was involved in the killings or in Julian’s disappearance.