DELRAY BEACH (CBS4) –Delray Beach Police have positively identified two young children found stuffed into bags in a canal.
The bodies of Jermaine McNeil, 10, and his sister Jutyra Allen, 6, were found Wednesday in a canal that separates Boca Raton from Delray Beach, stretching between U.S. 441 and the Intracoastal Waterway and passes beneath Florida’s Turnpike and I-95.
Authorities do not know how long the bodies had been in the water nor how the children died. Autopsy reports were not immediately released.
Clem Beauchamp — an ex-boyfriend of the kids’ mother — has been identified as a suspect in the case. He has not been charged in connection with the murders but he remains locked up on an unrelated federal weapons charge that stems from the illegal possession of a silencer.
Police are now turning the– Felecia Brown — was found in August in a West Palm Beach landfill. Police had been unable to identify her until the bodies of her children were discovered. Tattoos on her body of the names of her children helped identify her.
Brown had been missing for some time and neighbors say they asked Beauchamp where she was.
“We asked him, repeatedly, over and over, where is she? He said she’s in jail,” said Kenneth Marshall.
According to the police report in Brown’s case, West Palm Beach Police responded to the Solid Waste Authority processing plant located at 6501 N. Jog Rd. in reference to the discovery of a deceased female. The body was badly decomposed, the report said Relatives say Brown didn’t keep in regular contact with her family, so they have no idea how long she had been unaccounted for.
“We want to why, how, what took place, how long really was my sister missing for? There’s a lot of questions that’s going on,” said sister Margaret Gissome.
West Palm Beach detectives have not confirmed Brown’s identity but they are working with Delray Beach Police to see if the cases are connected.
Police began to get some answers Friday. They searched Beauchamp’s home and were seen removing bags of items. They also dug several holes in the backyard.
Neighbors said Beauchamp, 34, lived in the home with Brown, Jermaine and Jytra last year. The children had not been seen for several weeks and also have not been in school recently.
Relatives of the children and Brown want answers about what happened to their loved ones.
“Whoever did it, how could you do that to kids?,” asked Brown’s cousin Tanicsha Lowery. “Put them in a suitcase? How can you do that?”
Three other children belonging to Beauchamp and another woman living with him have been placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
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. “I know Clem got a little mean streak to him. I know he used to hit my sister.”
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 apparently lived in the home with at least four children. Two were Felicia’s kids and two were his own kids, a 10 and 15-year old whose mother is Michelle Dent. Sgt. Guerriero said police have spoken to Dent but she is not considered a suspect, according to police.
Beauchamp has a criminal past. He was arrested several times over the last 15 years, court records show. The most serious was in 1995, for aggravated assault with a firearm, which resulted in an 18-month sentence.
“We believe that this situation is domestic-related,” said Guerriero.
Throughout the day Thursday, small boats of divers and other police combed the canal for clues. Guerriero said they found nothing.
Under a tree near the canal’s banks, a tiny makeshift memorial took shape, with a teddy bear, a hippo spotted with pink hearts and two bunches of carnations.