Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jennifer Hudson Offers $100K for Nephew's Return

Jennifer Hudson offers $100K for nephew's return

October 26, 2008 at 6:12 PM
Chicago Tribune

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson has announced that she and her family are offering a $100,000 reward for the return of her 7-year-olf nephew Julian King, who has been missing since Hudson's mother and brother were found shot to death Friday at their Englewood home.

"We ask that all inquiries be directed to the Chicago Police Department, Wentworth Area Detective Division at 312/747-8380," said the statement from Hudson's publicist. "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."

Jennifer Hudson appealed online for help in finding her nephew Julian King.

In a MySpace blog entry, Hudson said she was grateful for community support and posted pictures of her nephew.

"Thank you all for your prayers and your calls. Please keep praying for our family and that we get Julian King back home safely," the blog entry said. "If anyone has any information about his whereabouts please contact the authorities immediately ... Once again thank you all for being there for us through this tough time."

Chicago police also began distributing "High Risk Missing Child" alerts with a picture of the boy to businesses and residents near Hudson's family home in the area near 74th and Halsted Streets.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert after the slayings for Julian and his stepfather, William Balfour, 27, who had recently separated from the boy's mother, Julia Hudson. Police arrested Balfour at his pregnant girlfriend's Southwest Side apartment a few hours after the bodies were found, but the boy was not with him.

The Amber Alert remains active.

Chicago police said today that Balfour has been transferred to the Illinois Department of Corrections on a violation of parole. Police said the violation is "independent of this investigation," but an Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Balfour violated his parole by being a "person of interest" in the murder case and possibly involved in the disappearance of the 7-year-old.

Though an alert released Friday identified Balfour as a suspect in the murders, Chicago police this weekend have said he is only a person they were interviewing. He has not been charged in the murders.

Balfour is on parole for attempted murder and vehicular hijacking. Cook County court records show he pleaded guilty in 1999 to attempted murder and vehicular hijacking. He also was convicted in a 1998 case of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, records show. He was released from the Illinois River Correctional Center in Downstate Canton in May 2006 after serving seven years in prison. He is still on parole, state records show.

"His parole was violated due to the allegations made against him," said IDOC spokeswoman Januari Smith. "That he is a person of interest in the homicides as well as the kidnapping."

Meanwhile, at Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side, Jennifer Hudson's second cousin, Krista Alston, 44, talked before services this morning about the devastating crime that has rocked her family. Alston was standing in the hallway of the church where she is assistant pastor and where Jennifer Hudson sang in the church choir.

"It is such a shock. It is like a tsunami comes through and leaves you devastated. God is still good." Alston said. She said she spoke with Jennifer Hudson Friday and described her as "holding up."

She said she did not know exactly what the police are doing to find Julian but the family is grateful to the police and confident in their work.

"Everyone has come together to look for him. We're focused on finding him. He's an innocent child," she said, her voice wavering.

"I want everyone in Chicagoland area to pray," she said. "Anybody -- we are pleading with you -- please release him. Take him to a hospital, drop him off somewhere. Please, please, in the name of Jesus, release him."

When a family member discovered the bodies of Julia and Jennifer's 57-year-old mother, Darnell Donerson and their brother Jason, 29, at about 3 p.m. Friday, there was no sign of Julian. Authorities are still seeking a white Chevrolet Suburban, plate number X584859, belonging to Jason Hudson.

Authorities believe the shooting began with the gunman firing through a door and striking Hudson's brother. The shooter then entered the home and continued firing, hitting Donerson when she entered the room.

Julia Hudson said her son anwers to "Juicebox" and "Dr. King."

Julian is described as 4-foot-11 and weighing 130 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair and was last seen wearing a striped polo shirt and khaki pants.

Jennifer Hudson, who won a 2007 Academy Award for her role in "Dreamgirls," was in Florida Friday promoting a new movie when her sister phoned to inform her of the slayings.
She returned to Chicago and had to positively identify the bodies of her mother and brother at the Cook County medical examiner's office.

She remained in Chicago this weekend, but a publicist did not disclose her whereabouts. The IDOC spokeswoman said.

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board will make the ultimate decision if Balfour has violated his parole and should be held, or whether he should be re-released on parole. That hearing could happen in anywhere from days to weeks, she said.

Smith would not say where Balfour is being held, but said it is in a state facility.

She said the decision to hold a parolee on a suspicion of a crime is discretionary for the agency.

"We make these decisions on a case-by-case basis," she said.

Chicago police clarified their assertion that Balfour was transferred for a violation of parole unrelated to the murder investigation, saying the decision to hold him was IDOC's.

"He is in IDOC's custody now for violating conditions of his parole from previous convictions. IDOC's actions to hold [are] based on this investigation [and] are discretionary and the decision of IDOC," said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for Chicago Police. "His prior violations are independent of this investigation."

-- Angela Rozas, Jeff Long and Emily S. Achenbaum, Chicago Tribune.