Less than 24 hours after Jennifer Hudson and her family offered a $100,000 reward for the safe return of the singer's 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, Chicago media reported on Monday morning (October 27) that police found the body of a male child in a vehicle on Chicago's West Side. By Monday afternoon, according to the Chicago Tribune, unnamed sources said police had told the Hudson family that the body was King's.
According to CNN, an FBI deputy director at a news conference on an unrelated matter said that the body is "believed to be" King and that the bureau is working with the Chicago Police Department to confirm the identity. The Tribune reported late Monday morning that members of the Hudson family were expected at the medical examiner's office in the early afternoon, and a press conference was scheduled following the identification of the body.
King has been missing since Friday, the same day detectives discovered that Hudson's mother and older brother had been shot to death inside the family's home on Chicago's South Side. An Amber Alert was issued on Friday after King was reported missing.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, police said the body of the young black male found in the SUV was shot once in the head in the back seat of the vehicle. Earlier, it was reported that bullet casings were found in the boy's room at the original crime scene on Friday. The police were tipped off about the Suburban early on Monday morning by a 75-year-old resident of the neighborhood who told the Sun-Times that his dog had been barking unusually at the suspicious vehicle.
Though police had not yet announced whether the body was King's, an Amber Alert for the boy and the Suburban were canceled earlier in the day.
The Tribune reported that a car belonging to Hudson's slain brother, a 1994 white Chevrolet Suburban with Illinois license-plate number X584859, was reported missing from the crime scene, and the SUV containing the body of the boy matched that license-plate number. Live TV shots posted by the paper on Monday morning showed a white Chevy Suburban being investigated on the scene where the child's body was found. A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said there was no comment on the reports at press time.
Late Monday morning, Chicago police confirmed the discovery of the vehicle matching the description of the missing Suburban at around 7:06 a.m. A statement also confirmed that a body was found inside the car in the rear seat, though no details were given on the age or gender of the victim. "Identification of the body will be made by the Cook County medical examiner's office following their examination," the statement said. "The vehicle is being processed for evidence and the investigation remains ongoing."
People in the neighborhood where the SUV was found told local station CLTV that they did not recall seeing the Suburban on Friday or Saturday and that they believe it was dumped there early Sunday morning or "recently."
The only person detained by police in the case, 27-year-old William Balfour, has denied involvement in the disappearance of the boy, law enforcement sources told the Tribune. Balfour, out on parole after serving a seven-year prison sentence for attempted murder and kidnapping, is the estranged husband of the missing boy's mother, Julia Hudson. Since being taken in for questioning, he has been transferred to a state facility for violating his parole, officials said. Police are testing Balfour's clothing for gunshot residue, the Sun-Times reports.
An unidentified police source told the paper that Balfour's alibi on the day of the killings has been contradicted by his pregnant girlfriend, who has been interviewed by police. Balfour was arrested at the girlfriend's home on Friday night, and a family friend said Balfour had recently threatened to take King away. A source said that police had tracked Balfour's whereabouts on the day of the slayings through his cell phone.
Police said they had interviewed Balfour's girlfriend, who contradicted his alibi. Balfour has denied involvement in the killings or King's disappearance and law-enforcement sources told the Sun-Times that at some point he stopped talking to authorities.
A neighbor who lives on the block where Balfour was arrested told the paper that he remembers seeing a man matching Balfour's description drive up in a white SUV and park on the block around noon on Friday, three hours after the slayings. The neighbor said the man reached into the glove compartment, got out of the car carrying what appeared to be a bottle of liquor and walked into the house where Balfour was later arrested. The Sun-Times also reported that police had been told that Balfour and Julia Hudson had been at the home that was the scene of the slaying earlier in the day Friday and may have argued, though Balfour's mother denied her son was at the Hudson home that day.
[This story was originally published at 11:02 a.m. ET on 10.27.2008]