In prison on a parole violation, Balfour is transferred to Chicago police custody in the triple-slayings

By Hilary Shenfeld and Jeff Truesdell
Updated December 01, 2008 05:45 PM
Credit: AP

Jennifer Hudson‘s estranged brother-in-law, William Balfour, was arrested Monday in the slayings of the Oscar winner’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew, according to Chicago police.

Formal charges have not yet been brought by the Cook County prosecutor’s office, but Balfour was transferred from an Illinois state prison – where he has been held on suspicion of a parole violation – back into police custody, says police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

Balfour, 27, who is separated from Hudson’s sister, Julia, was arrested in the first-degree murders of Hudson’s mother Darnell Donerson, 57, brother Jason Hudson, 29, and his own stepson, Julian King, 7.

The bodies of Donerson and Hudson were found shot to death Oct. 24 in the family home on Chicago’s South Side by Hudson’s sister, Julia.

The body of King, Julia’s son, was found three days later in the backseat of Jason’s abandoned Chevrolet Suburban parked 10 miles from the family’s home. All died from gunshot wounds.

Contentious Relationship

Balfour, who previously served prison time for attempted murder and car hijacking, was arrested hours after the first victims were discovered.

He and Julia Hudson married on Dec. 30, 2006, and initially lived together at the family home. But a contentious relationship, marked by fights over money and infidelities according to family members and neighbors, led to Balfour being thrown out of the house in recent months. He had voiced threats against Julia and her family, sources say. His mother, Michele Balfour, told reporters her son had discussed divorce.

No motive for the slayings was disclosed, but police told the Chicago Tribune that on the morning of the killings Julia Hudson reported to her job as a school bus driver and learned that her paycheck had been garnered due to unmade payments on a car that Balfour had taken earlier. She then called Balfour.

Sources – who reconstructed events based on conversations with a girlfriend of Balfour’s – told the Tribune that Balfour then went to the Hudson home and fired through the front door, striking Jason Hudson. Darnell Donerson was allegedly shot as she entered the living room.

Search for Missing Boy

King was reported missing from the home after Julia Hudson came home about 3 p.m. and alerted police. The boy was the subject of a three-day search until his body was found inside a white SUV parked on a West Side street early on Oct. 27. A bullet lodged in the vehicle suggests he was shot in the car, police sources said.