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Police: Balfour denies slayings

The convicted felon questioned in the slayings of actress-singer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew told police he is innocent but balked at taking a lie-detector test, a police official said.

William Balfour, the 27-year-old stepfather of Hudson's nephew and estranged husband of her sister, told detectives he had a good relationship with the Hudson family, the police official said Wednesday. When detectives asked Balfour to take the polygraph test, he stopped cooperating and refused to take the test, said the official, who is familiar with the investigation.

Balfour has been at the center of the investigation since shortly after the bodies of Hudson's mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, and brother, 29-year-old Jason Hudson, were found last Friday inside their home on Chicago's South Side. The body of Balfour's stepson, 7-year-old Julian King, was discovered Monday in an SUV on the city's West Side. All three had been shot. Detectives believe Justin King was alive when he left the house and was probably shot in the SUV. Associated Press

California Madera

Two large human bones were found near the crash site of Steve Fossett's plane in California's Sierra Nevada. Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said Thursday that searchers found the bones the day before about a half-mile east of the site. He says investigators should know in about a week whether the bones are Fossett's. The adventurer vanished in September 2007. Associated Press

Congo Goma

With a cease-fire appearing to halt most fighting, a rebel leader said Thursday he wanted direct talks with the Congo government. Envoys from the U.S. and U.N. were sent in to help set up negotiations. Sporadic gunfire could still be heard Thursday night in Goma, but the city was calm for much of the day. That was in sharp contrast to Wednesday, when tens of thousands of residents, refugees and government soldiers fled in a chaotic torrent ahead of advancing rebels. Associated Press

Israel Hirbet Qeiyafa

An Israeli archaeologist has discovered what he believes is the oldest known Hebrew inscription on a 3,000-year-old pottery shard – a find that suggests biblical accounts of the ancient Israelite kingdom of David could have been based on written texts. A teenage volunteer discovered the curved shard bearing five lines of faded characters in July in the ruins of an ancient town on a hilltop south of Jerusalem. Yossi Garfinkel, the Israeli archaeologist leading the excavations at Hirbet Qeiyafa, released his conclusions about the writing Thursday after months of study. He said the relic is strong evidence that the ancient Israelites were literate and could chronicle events centuries before the Bible was written . Associated Press

VATICAN CITY

The Vatican issued new psychological screening guidelines for seminarians Thursday – the latest effort by the Roman Catholic Church to be more selective about its priesthood candidates following a series of sex abuse scandals. The church said it issued the guidelines to help church leaders weed out candidates with “psychopathic disturbances.” The scandals have rocked the church in recent years, triggering lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements. Associated Press

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