CHICAGO (AP) | The elder sister of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson has made a plea at a Chicago church for the return of her missing 7-year-old son.
Julia Hudson made the plea Saturday for her son, Julian King, who was reported missing Friday from the family’s longtime South Side home and hasn’t been seen since. Darnell Donerson, 57, and Jason Hudson, 29 — the two women’s mother and brother — were found fatally shot the same day in the home.
“I don’t care who you are, just let the baby go,” Julia Hudson, 31, said to a crowd from the podium of the Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church with the boy’s father, Greg King, at her side. “I just want my son. He don’t deserve this.”
Authorities were holding a suspect with ties to the family, but no one had been charged Saturday. Law enforcement sources told the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times that William Balfour was in custody, and the man’s mother said he is Julia Hudson’s estranged husband.
Balfour was named in an Amber Alert issued after Julian’s disappearance.
Julia Hudson did not comment at the church meeting on her relationship to Balfour.
The Hudsons, who have insisted on not allowing 27-year-old Jennifer’s fame to alter their lives, lived in a three-story white house bookended by vacant lots.
A grill and bottle of mustard stood on the lawn Saturday, remnants of the barbecues they were known to throw on birthdays and holidays at the home where Miss Hudson went to school and sang in church. Some neighbors, friends and relatives left stuffed animals and flowers in an impromptu memorial Saturday.
“They wouldn’t turn anyone away,” said Bob Israel, who lives in the neighborhood. “They didn’t want to change a bit.”
Dana Thomson, whose daughter worked at Burger King with Jennifer and Julia Hudson, echoed the sentiment.
“The mother didn’t want to move. She was not accustomed to it,” the neighbor said. “She knew everybody here.”
Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond, who declined to comment Saturday on a suspect, said no one had been charged. She has said that investigators were talking to “a number of people in custody.”
Miss Bond said the FBI had been called to help in the search for the boy on “the possibility or any theory that he could have been take across state lines.” But she added, “We have nothing to prove that.”
The Cook County medical examiner’s office on Saturday ruled the deaths to be homicides. Authorities noted that at least one of the victims suffered defensive wounds and described the shooting as domestic violence.
Records from the Illinois Department of Corrections show Balfour, 27, is on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle. Public records show one of Balfour’s addresses as the home where Mrs. Donerson and Jason Hudson were fatally shot.
Balfour’s mother, Michele Balfour, said her son had been married to Julia Hudson for several years, but that they were separated. She also said Mrs. Donerson had ordered him to move out of the family home last winter.
Miss Balfour told reporters that she offered her condolences to the family and denied her son had any involvement.
“All I want is for my son to come home,” she said.
Julia Hudson asked that the public look for her son, saying he answers to the nicknames Juice Box and Dr. King. She added that her famous sister was in Chicago on Saturday, a day after she called down to her in Florida.
Jennifer Hudson’s fiance, David Otunga, who answered the phone, couldn’t understand Julia Hudson and handed the phone to Jennifer.
“Despite her being who she is, she is still my sister,” Julia Hudson said. “She understood. She flew in right away, and we’ve been together since.”
The tragedy comes as Jennifer Hudson continues to reach new heights in her career. Her song “Spotlight” is No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts, and her recently released, self-titled debut album has been a top seller. She was featured in this year’s blockbuster “Sex and the City” movie and is starring in the hit film “The Secret Life of Bees.”