Image: Police photographer at crime scene
Nam Y. Huh  /  AP
A Chicago Police Department photographer on Wednesday takes pictures on the West Side, near where a gun was found. The area is also near where 7-year-old Julian King was found shot to death.
updated 10/31/2008 7:53:22 PM ET 2008-10-31T23:53:22

Police confirmed Friday they found the gun used in the killings of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew, as the family's South Side community prepared a public memorial to say goodbye.

The .45-caliber gun was discovered Wednesday in a vacant lot in the West Side neighborhood where the body of Hudson's 7-year-old nephew Julian King was found a few days earlier inside an SUV. The bodies of Hudson's 57-year-old mother, Darnell Donerson, and her 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, were discovered in the family's home last Friday.

"The weapon has been positively identified through forensic examination as the weapon that was used in the homicides," police Superintendent Jody Weis said at an unrelated Friday news conference.

Police were "extraordinarily pleased and satisfied" the weapon had been identified, but much work remained in the case, Weis said.

A police official has said detectives think Hudson's nephew was alive when he left the house where his relatives were killed and likely was shot in the SUV where his body was found. The police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly, would not elaborate on when detectives think the boy might have died.

Nobody has been charged in the killings, but 27-year-old William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson's sister, is in custody on a parole violation. Police have called Balfour, a convicted felon, a "person of interest."

Kicked out of home
Balfour's mother, Michele Balfour, has said Hudson's mother kicked Balfour out of the family home last winter. She denied her son had anything to do with the killings.

Image: William Balfour
AFP-Getty Images
This photo released by the Illinois Department of Corrections shows William Balfour.
Records show that Balfour was arrested with cocaine in his car in June, but authorities declined to return him to prison on a parole violation.

Corrections Department spokesman Derek Schnapp said officials who reviewed the cocaine-possession case against Balfour determined "the evidence that was presented during that time wouldn't have necessarily warranted a violation."

A judge dismissed the charge in July for lack of probable cause, but under the strict rules of the state's parole program, Balfour could have gone back to prison just for the arrest.

Balfour served seven years for a 1999 attempted murder and vehicular hijacking conviction.

The Illinois Department of Corrections issued a warrant for Balfour on Saturday for violating terms of his parole by possessing a weapon and failing to attend anger management counseling and a substance abuse program, according to his parole history report.

Funerals, memorials planned
News linking the gun to the killings comes as the South Side church where Hudson spent her childhood prepares for a weekend memorial service honoring the three slaying victims. Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church is also where Hudson's sister Julia made an emotional plea for her son Julian's return the day after he disappeared and his relatives were found shot to death.

The Hudson sisters will not attend the community memorial, which will be open to the public from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, according to an announcement from Hudson's publicist.

Funeral services for Hudson's mother, brother and nephew are to be held Monday. The private service will be held at Apostolic Church of God on Chicago's South Side.

To help other victims of violent crime, the Hudson sisters have established the Hudson-King Foundation.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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