Friends and relatives of Jennifer Hudson listened to spiritual songs and reminisced about her late mother, brother and nephew at a memorial service Sunday at the childhood church of the singer and Oscar-winning actress.
Many of those songs featured Hudson, who did not attend the memorial service for Darnell Donerson, 57, Jason Hudson, 29, and Julian King, 7. The three were fatally shot late last month. Jennifer Hudson’s sister, Julia, also did not attend.
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Private funeral services are scheduled for Monday.
At Sunday’s memorial, mourners dressed in black or white hugged and greeted one another while music played on the chapel speakers at Pleasant Gift Memorial Baptist Church on the city’s South Side.
Large pictures of Jason Hudson and Julian King stood at the front of the room, and relatives took turns recounting stories about the three victims.
Shari Sweat, a cousin of Darnell Hudson Donerson, called her by her nickname, “Doll,” as she recounted how important the upcoming election was to her.
“Doll refused to be left out of this historical moment in this nation, and before she left these shores she cast her vote,” Sweat said.
Several of Julian’s young cousins sang “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” as the audience clapped along. And Julian’s second-grade teacher, Carmen Williams of Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy, said that whenever the 7-year-old raised his hand to answer a question in class, he was right.
She read from the journals of Julian’s classmates, including one that read, “Julian was smart. I’m sad he didn’t get to be president of the United States.”
Sean Howard, executive assistant to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, said he was with the Hudson family when they went to the medical examiner’s office last week to identify Julian’s body.
“When Jennifer and her family walked in, Jennifer was a pillar in that room,” Howard said. “You have a true leader in your family in Jennifer.”
The bodies of Donerson and Hudson were discovered Oct. 24 at the family’s home. Three days later the body of Julian was discovered in a sport utility vehicle on the city’s West Side. No one has been charged in the killings, which police have described as “domestic related.”
Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond said Sunday that investigators are “still processing evidence.”
Last week, Chicago police found the gun used in the three killings in a vacant lot on the West Side.
Authorities have called Julia Hudson’s estranged husband, 27-year-old William Balfour, a “person of interest.”
Chicago police arrested Balfour 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, Julian’s stepfather, served seven years for a 1999 attempted murder and vehicular hijacking conviction. He remained jailed at the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet on Sunday, according to corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp.
His mother, Michelle Balfour, of Chicago has denied her son had anything to do with the deaths.