CHICAGO – The mother and brother of Jennifer Hudson were found shot dead Friday at a South Side home, and police were seeking a missing child who is the nephew of the singer and Oscar-winning actress.
“We can confirm that there is an ongoing investigation concerning the deaths of Jennifer Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, and her brother, Jason Hudson,” Hudson’s personal publicist, Lisa Kasteler, said in a statement. “No further comment will be made and the family has asked that their privacy be respected at this difficult time.”
Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the deaths appeared to be the result of domestic abuse.
Deputy Chief Joseph Patterson said a family member entered the home around 3 p.m. Friday, found a woman shot on the living room floor and left to notify authorities. Responding officers found a man shot in the bedroom, Patterson said. There was no sign of forced entry.
Police tape blocked access to the large, white house, where a crowd gathered outside.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert for 7-year-old Julian King, and were seeking a 1994 white Chevrolet Suburban. The child was the grandson of the dead woman, Patterson said.
The alert said the child was possibly abducted, and could be accompanied by a man named William Balfour – considered armed and dangerous – who was a suspect in the double homicide investigation. Records with the Illinois Department of Corrections show Balfour, 27, who has not been charged with a crime, is on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle.
The two could also be in a teal or green Chrysler Concord with a temporary license plate, a left front headlight hanging out and scratches on the left side of the vehicle, police said.
The tragedy comes as Hudson, who grew up in Chicago, reaches 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-tiled album debut and has been a top seller. She was featured in this year’s blockbuster “Sex and the City” and is also starring in hit movie “The Secret Life of Bees.”
She won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2007 for her role in “Dreamgirls.” In an interview last year with Vogue, Hudson credited her mother with encouraging her to audition for “American Idol,” which launched her career.
The singer, whose father died when she was a teenager, described herself as very close to her family. In a recent interview, she said her family, which includes older siblings Julia and Jason, helped keep her grounded.
“My faith in God and my family, they’re very realistic and very normal, they’re not into the whole limelight kind of thing, so when I go home to Chicago that’s just another place that’s home,” she said. “I stand in line with everybody else, or, when I go home to my mom I’m just Jennifer, (so she says), ‘You get up and you take care of your own stuff.’ And I love that; I don’t like when people tell you everything you want to hear, I want to hear the truth, you know what I mean.”