Page last updated at 04:56 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Reward offered in Hudson mystery

Police tape seals off the house of the late Darnell Donerson in Chicago
Jennifer Hudson's nephew Julian, seven, has been missing since Friday

US actress Jennifer Hudson and her family have offered $100,000 (63,000) for the safe return of her nephew, missing since a double murder.

Chicago police investigating the killing of her mother and brother have been searching the area where they lived with seven-year-old Julian.

His mother Julia, the actress's sister, found the bodies at the family home.

Julia's husband - the boy's stepfather - has been in custody since shortly after the killings.

Darnell Donerson, 57, and Jason Hudson, 29, were both found shot dead on Friday when Julia returned from work.

A state-wide alert has been called in Illinois for the missing little boy.

Mourners have been stopping by the Hudson home, many laying teddy bears and messages along the chain link fence around the property.

"We love you," one message read. Another said: "We'll find the people who did this."

Hunt for clues

News of the reward came in a statement released by Hudson's publicist, Lisa Kasteler, on Sunday evening.

Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for her role in Dreamgirls in 2006

"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," the statement said.

Julia Hudson's son, whose full name is Julian King, is believed to have been in the house with his grandmother and uncle before the shooting.

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Patterson said Ms Donerson's body had been found on the living-room floor of her home in the south side of Chicago. Jason Hudson's body was discovered in the bedroom.

Investigators say there did not appear to be any sign of forced entry.

The authorities have issued an amber alert - the US term for a search for a missing child - for Julian King.

"Detectives are working 24 hours on this case," said Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

"There's a lot of forensic evidence. We have to work the evidence and try and solve this case. Most importantly, we want to find the child."

Parole violation

The boy's stepfather, William Balfour, 27, was taken into custody for questioning after being named in a police alert regarding the child's disappearance.

An undated prison photo of William Balfour
William Balfour has been returned to prison for parole violations

The alert said he was considered "armed and dangerous".

Mr Balfour's mother, Michele Davis Balfour, denied her son had anything to do with the killings or the boy's disappearance.

She said that Ms Donerson had ordered her son to move out of the family home last winter.

Records from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDC) show that Mr Balfour had been on parole after having spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, hijacking and possessing a stolen car.

Police transferred him back to the IDC on Sunday "based on his active parole violation unrelated to this investigation", Monique Bond said.

Jennifer Hudson, 27, a singer-turned-actress who found fame on American Idol in 2005, won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the hit-film Dreamgirls in 2006 and starred in the film Sex and the City.

She is currently starring in The Secret Life of Bees while her song Spotlight is No 1 in the Billboard R&B charts.

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