The Murder of Her Mother, Brother, and Nephew.
Jennifer Hudson rose caught the nation's attention when she appeared in American Idol's third season. She shook the audiences with her performance in Dreamgirls, and she was handpicked by Aretha Franklin to star in the 2021 biopic Respect. In the midst of making a name for herself, Jennifer's family suffered a horrific attack that would truly test her strength.
*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.
Jennifer Hudson was born September 12, 1981 in Chicago, IL. Her mother’s name was Darnell Donerson, and her father was named Samuel Simpson. She had a brother named Jason and a sister named Julia, and the 3 of them were raised solely by their mother, Darnell.
Their father, Samuel, apparently had 27 children total– 11 girls and 16 boys. She’s met some of them but not all of them.
Jennifer started performing at around the age of 7, singing with the church choir and performing in school plays, community theater productions, and talent shows. Her biggest influences were Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Patti Labelle.
In 2002, Jennifer signed her first recording contract with an independent label. They released her in her 5 year contract in 2004 so that she could appear in American Idol.
She gained popularity in 2004 when she was on season 3 of American Idol. She placed 7th on the show, that season’s winner was Fantasia Barrino. In 2006 she appeared in Dreamgirls. She beat out hundreds of professional artists who auditioned for that role, including Fantasia Barrino.
Jennifer’s performance absolutely shook the audiences.
for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the youngest African-American to win in a competitive acting category. Following these successes, Hudson was signed to Arista Records and released her self-titled debut studio album in 2008, which was certified gold in the United States, sold over a million copies worldwide, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.
In 2008, Jennifer’s sister, Julia, had been married to a guy named William Balfour. Jennifer and the family were not fond of this guy. He was a high school dropout and a career criminal, and his father and brother were ex-cons, and most importantly, he treated Julia like shit. Jennifer begged her not to marry him. He was also on parole for an attempted murder conviction from 1992.
Nonetheless, Julia fell in love and married William. They had a son together named Julian.
The marriage was tumultuous and within a few years, Julia decided to divorce William.
Julia went on a trip to Japan with Jennifer in early 2008, and William started sleeping around. Julia had had enough and the couple separated in February 2009 but he kept coming around and threatening her, and also checking to see if she had other men at her house.
One source said that Julia’s mother, Darnell, was actually the one to throw William out.
“If you ever leave me, I’m going to kill you, but I’m going to kill your family first. You will be the last to die,” Balfour said according to court records.
He had threatened to kill her and her family at least two dozen times. But Julia didn’t really believe him.
Julia lived at the house with her mother, Darnell, and her son, Julian. On October 23rd, 2008, the family got together and had a little get-together with some cake to celebrate Julia’s 31st birthday. The next morning, William came around the house and..
-Julia Hudson said William Balfour, then her estranged husband, had shown up at the house asking, "Why are you ignoring me?"
She testified that Balfour saw her Sweetest Day balloons –a gift from another man – in her bedroom and punched at them.-
He threatened Julia again, gave her a little warning. Julia left for work at 8:10 AM and William allegedly did too. He says that he got on a train and went home, but his public transit card was apparently not used on that day and he wasn’t on the security footage from the train station that day. Also, cell phone towers placed him near Julia’s home until 9:00AM. It was right around 9:00 that neighbors heard gunshots, but did not call the police. It wasn’t unusual to hear gunshots in their neighborhood.
William had shot through the front door, immediately hitting Jason Hudson (the brother). He then entered the house, and then he shot at Darnell, the mother.
He then took his son, Julian, and they got into Jason’s car and drove away.
Apparently William had moved his car and left it like at a nearby high school or something. He and Julian went to William’s pregnant girlfriend’s apartment.
So he just killed these people because he thought his ex wife had a boyfriend, and meanwhile he’s got his own pregnant girlfriend. Ok.
William had a meeting with his parole officer that afternoon, but he missed it. Around 3PM, Julia came home and found her mother, Darnell, in the living room, lying in a pile of blood. Her 7 year old son, Julian, was nowhere to be found.
An Amber alert was issued for Julian and his father, William. At around 6pm, police arrested William at his girlfriend’s house. But Julian wasn’t there with him.
The police questioned William, but he clammed up once they asked him about taking a polygraph. His supposed alibi was contradicted by his girlfriend, who told police that William admitted to her that he did indeed kill Darnell and Jason.
Of course, as soon as this all happened, Julia called Jennifer and told her the tragic news. Jennifer immediately got on a plane to Chicago and identified the bodies of her mother and brother.
Saturday Oct. 25th, the FBI is called in to help. William’s car, which he had parked somewhere, was recovered, but they still hadn’t located Jason’s car, the car that William drove off with Julian in.
On October 27th, Jason’s vehicle is located with Julian’s body inside. He had been shot in the head. The vehicle was seen sitting in this neighborhood all weekend but nobody reported it or thought it was weird, until a little chihuahua started barking at it and it’s owner decided to report it.
October 30th, 2008, Jennifer announces the start of the Hudson-King Foundation for Families of Slain Victims.
"The specific purpose of the foundation is to care for the needs of families who have lost relatives to a violent crime," the Hudson family expressed in a statement. "This encompasses their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter as well as grief counseling."
-After the murders, a witness came forward and told the police they saw Balfour with a chrome and black .45 caliber gun days before the murders.
The investigators found gun residue on Belfour’s clothing and on the SUV’s steering wheel.
They also found Jason’s SUV’s keys in his pocket
Cell phone records place him near the murders.
Balfour stated any evidence the police found was planted by the police and he was an innocent man. He claimed that he had no idea who could have killed Julia’s family.-
Jason had also violated parole in several ways, and there were a lot of witnesses. Like he wasn’t supposed to have possession of a gun and he wasn’t supposed to go to places where there would be drugs being sold.
-Hudson said she was extremely close with her mother, keeping in touch with her daily, and became worried when she awoke on Oct. 24, 2008, and hadn't heard from her mother yet.
Jennifer Hudson was at the trail every day.
The jury found Balfour guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, home invasion, residential burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, and aggravated kidnapping. He has no possibility of parole.
After the trial, Jennifer stated she had forgiven Belfour and wanted to live her best life because that’s what her loved ones would have liked.-
William was arrested on December 1st, 2008 and charged with 3 counts of first degree murder and another count of home invasion.
At a December 3 court hearing in which Balfour was denied bail, a prosecutor alleged that Balfour had committed the murders out of anger that his estranged wife was dating another man
Balfour was indicted on December 30. On January 20, 2009, he pleaded not guilty to all charges.
It is reported that after 18 hours of deliberation that spanned over three days, Belfour was found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder.
In May 2012, he was sentenced to three life sentences and an additional 120 years, without the possibility of parole.
Turning their tragic situation in something positive, the Hudson sisters have established the Julian D. King Gift Foundation.
-Hudson continued acting, most notably in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple and, in 2016, the televised Hairspray Live! and the animated film Sing. The cast recording of The Color Purple went on to win a Grammy in the category of Best Musical Theater Album. In 2017, Hudson signed on as a coach for the sixth series of The Voice UK and released "Remember Me," her first single for Epic. The next year, she jumped to the U.S. version of The Voice, alongside fellow Idol alumna Kelly Clarkson. After she starred as Grizabella in the 2019 film adaptation of the musical Cats, she portrayed legendary singer Aretha Franklin in the biopic Respect. The film's release coincided with that of the Grammy-nominated soundtrack, featuring Hudson's interpretations of gospel and soul classics Franklin either made her own or popularized, along with a new song written by Carole King.-
-In 2010, Hudson became the spokesperson for Weight Watchers. That year, she had lost 56 pounds (25 kg) and "[did] not want to lose any more weight." However, on February 10, 2011, she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and revealed she had lost a total of 80 pounds. Her 2012 autobiography, I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down, detailed her weight loss.-
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