DELRAY BEACH (CBS4) – Delray Beach Police are questioning a man with a violent past in connection with a grisly discovery made Wednesday in a canal.
Tips led investigators to Clem Beauchamp, 34, after two children were found floating in the water in separate bags. Police have not released the identities of the children.
Thursday, police officers surrounded the home where Beauchamp lives on SW 7 Avenue in Delray Beach and cordoned it off with crime scene tape. However, no officers were seen entering the home as of late Thursday night.
Neighbors say Beauchamp lived in the home with his girlfriend, Felicia Brown and her two children — Jermaine, 10, and Jytra, 6. According to neighbors the children match the description of the children discovered in the canal. The children have not been seen for several weeks and also have not been in school recently.
Neighbors and Brown’s family tell us Felicia Brown has also not been seen in weeks.
Margaret Gissome is Brown’s sister. She fears the worst.
“I don’t want to wish bad on my family but from the looks of it my sister’s gone as well as her kids,” Gissome said.
Brown’s family provided photos of Felicia and her children along with other evidence to Delray Beach Police Thursday.
“To have something like this happen, it’s a big tragedy for us,” Gissome said.
Neighbor Kenneth Marshall called Beauchamp a “good father” to Brown’s children. Marshall said he last saw Jermaine a few weeks ago playing football with Beauchamp in the neighborhood.
“It’s shocking because to see the kids come out and play and play with my kids,” Marshall said. “It’s very shocking because you would never believe he would be a suspect in something like this.”
Beauchamp has a criminal past. He has been in trouble with the law five times since 1995, with charges ranging from marijuana possession to armed robbery.
The canal where the bodies were found separates Boca Raton from Delray Beach, stretching between U.S. 441 and the Intracoastal Waterway and passes beneath Florida’s Turnpike and I-95.
The first discovery of the bodies came around 9 a.m. Wednesday when a postal worker noticed a duffel bag floating in the water.
Inside, was the body of an African-American girl believed to be between the ages of 6 and 10.
As police divers with Delray Beach and Boca Raton searched the canal in the afternoon, they noticed a suitcase near the canal bank about a half mile west from where the girl’s body was found. Inside the suitcase was the body of an African American boy between the ages of 10 and 12.
“We believe that we have the children id’d,” said Delray Beach Sergeant Nicole Guerriero. “However, we don’t have confirmation yet, so we’re not able to release that information.”
Delray Beach Police investigators believe they were brother and sister and were possibly killed in a domestic incident. Police checked national reports of missing children and have brought in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for assistance.
“It’s devastating,” said local resident George Fitzgerald. “There is no tide in that canal and it opens with a gate. It’s down by U.S. 1. My theory is that they were dumped west of here.”
Since Wednesday, people have been urged to call with information, knowing someone must be missing these children.
“Anything they think is odd, kids that haven’t played outside when they normally do, someone who…a teacher who hasn’t seen their students in school for a week or so, any amount of time that they think is odd,” Sgt. Guerriero said.
The little girl is described as having braids with clear and white beads. The girl was wearing a shirt with short sleeves, dark pants and Polo sneakers. The boy is described as wearing dark shorts.
Police are not sure how long the bodies were in the water or how the children died. They did say that the bodies were intact. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner will perform autopsies to determine how the children died.
If you have any information on who these children are or how they died, you are asked to call detectives at the Delray Beach Police Department at (561) 243-7828 or (561) 243-6220.