Police arrested the estranged brother-in-law of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson on Monday for the murders of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew, taking him from a prison cell where he'd been held since just after the shooting deaths.
Chicago police arrived at Stateville Correctional Center at around 2:45 p.m., armed with an arrest warrant for William Balfour for three counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Darnell Hudson Donerson, Jason Hudson, and Julian King, said police department spokeswoman Monique Bond.
Balfour, 27, was released to detectives after they served the warrant and he awaited formal charges, Bond said. Balfour had not been charged by Monday night, said Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.
The arrest of a man police have only referred to until Monday as a "person of interest" is a public confirmation of what police sources have been saying for weeks: That Balfour was the prime suspect in the slayings. It also comes two days before Balfour was to appear in a hearing at Stateville for a hearing on whether he violated his parole.
The closest authorities came to saying Balfour was a suspect came after a hearing at Stateville to determine if there was enough evidence to hold a parole violation hearing for Balfour, a convicted felon.
Balfour maintains his innocence.
"My client is clear-thinking, well-spoken and says he didn't do it," Balfour's attorney Josh Kutnick said.
Outside the prison, Illinois Prison Review Board Chairman Jorge Montes said a woman told authorities that a weapon used in the slayings was "identical" to the .45-caliber gun recovered in a vacant lot in the same West Side neighborhood where Julian's body was found inside an SUV.
Montes said the statements of the woman, whom he said was Balfour's girlfriend or former girlfriend, was a key piece of evidence in convincing the hearing officer to call for the parole violation hearing, which was scheduled for Wednesday.
Bond declined to discuss any evidence Monday.
The bodies of Donerson and Jason Hudson were discovered Oct. 24 at the family's home. Julian's body was found three days later in a sport utility vehicle on the city's West Side. All three had been shot.
Police took Balfour into custody the same day the bodies of Donerson and Hudson were discovered. After 48 hours -- the longest Chicago police can hold a person without charges -- Balfour was taken by the Illinois Department of Corrections on a parole violation.
Balfour, who is the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson's older sister, Julia Hudson, and Julian's stepfather, served seven years for a 1999 attempted murder and vehicular hijacking conviction.
Balfour did not have an attorney at the November hearing, and the Cook County Public Defender's office said at the time nobody from the office had been assigned because he was not formally charged with a crime.
No one in the public defender's office was assigned to Balfour's case late Monday, and it's not clear if he had an attorney.
His mother, Michelle Davis-Balfour of Chicago, told reporters outside of the police station Monday night that authorities don't have a case against her son.
"If they found gun powder on his hands, you got a case, if they found a gun on him, he had a case, if they found a fingerprint on the truck that he did this, you got a case, but they don't have nothing," said an angry Davis-Balfour.
Balfour had refused to take a lie-detector test and stopped cooperating with detectives in the case, a police official, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, has said.
Jennifer Hudson was a finalist in the 2004 season of "American Idol" and she won her Oscar in 2007 for her film debut, a supporting role in "Dreamgirls." She has mostly stayed out of the spotlight and close to her family since the killings.