Delray Beach police identify dead children in canal

A woman's body found in a West Palm Beach trash dump in August is linked to the two children found dead in a Delray Beach canal, Delray Beach police said Friday.

The woman, Felicia Brown, 25, was the mother of Jermaine McNeil, 10, and Ju'Tyra Allen, 6-- the children found stuffed into luggage and submerged in the C-15 canal in Delray Beach.

The man suspected in the deaths of two young children was in court on Friday morning, but not in connection with that case.

Clem Beauchamp appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach on a federal gun charge filed Thursday. He was led into the courtroom by U.S. Marshals shackled and wearing a blue jail jumpsuit.

On Thursday, Beauchamp was named a suspect in the deaths of the children, but was not charged, Delray Beach police said.

Beauchamp voluntarily came to the police department on Thursday to talk with detectives, police said.

Late Thursday, federal authorities charged him with with a weapons violation for possessing a gun silencer, a charge that allowed authorities to keep him in custody.

Beauchamp's lengthy criminal history includes aggravated assault, armed robbery and home-invasion robbery charges, state records show.

In court Friday, Beauchamp sat down with a careworn expression on his face. He put his head in his hands and ran his fingers through his hair in a repetitive motion. A woman in the gallery mouthed words to him for a few moments, then got up and left.

A federal prosecutor told U.S. Magistrate Judge Linnea Johnson that the government would seek to hold Beauchamp without bond at a hearing set for Wednesday.

Beauchamp spoke softly in response to questions from Johnson. He said he didn't have the money to hire a lawyer but has equity in his home. Johnson told him he would hire his own attorney.

The hearing concluded in a matter of minutes. Prosecutors revealed no new details about the gun case or the status of the Delray Beach police investigation.

Police were at Beauchamp's Delray Beach house on Friday morning. They towed several cars from the driveway and were digging in the backyard.

Delray Beach police spokeswoman Nicole Guerreiro said officers were not looking for anything specific at the home, in the 100 block of Seventh Avenue.

She said detectives were inside the home, searching for evidence.

Police still are not releasing the names of the dead children since they still lack scientific information to confirm their identities. Police have said the children appeared to be siblings.

Detectives also are searching for the children's mother, she said.

"We haven't been able to confirm where the mother is, and that is concerning us," she said. "We're not sure of her whereabouts."

Still, Guerreiro said, police don't believe there is a third victim in this case.

Neighbors of Beauchamp have speculated about what happened to the children. At one point Thursday, two groups started shouting at each other and police had to intervene to break them up and calm them down.

"I'm just surprised. It's just crazy," Tameka Jackson said. "I live one street over, I can't believe it."

Kenneth Marshall, who lives across the street and knew Beauchamp since they were 13, said he noticed strange behavior from Beauchamp a couple of nights ago.

"When we saw him he was very distraught [and crying]," Marshall said. "We saw him go [next door to the front of a] church and pray. He cut his hair, he had dreads like we do, and he cut his hair."

Marshall said Beauchamp was an "excellent father."

"Things happen, and if he did anything that involves him with the missing kids, then turn himself in," Marshall said. "Speak the truth, just speak the truth and tell the people what happened."

Earlier on Thursday, an upset-looking Beauchamp walked into the Delray Beach police headquarters around 10 a.m. He waited in the lobby, sitting with his head in his hands and rocking back and forth. Minutes later, he followed detectives into another room. Detectives also questioned two women who arrived with him.

Delray Beach police had 15 detectives working on the case, following up on tips, Guerriero said.

The girl's body was found about 9 a.m. Wednesday, while the boy's body was found about 3 p.m., west of the Interstate 95 overpass.

A resident called police on Wednesday morning after spotting a black duffel bag in the canal, about halfway between I-95 and the two-lane bridge connecting Carl Bolter Drive and Brant Drive to the east. Around 9 a.m., police opened the bag and pulled out the girl's body.

Six hours later, police found the boy's body.

Police ask anyone with information to contact Delray Beach Police Detective Pete Sosa, 561-243-7828; Detective Jason Jabcuga, 561-243-6220; or Crime Stoppers, anonymously, 800-458-TIPS (8477).

Staff researcher Barbara Hijek and staff writers Alexia Campbell, Wayne K. Roustan and Jerome Burdi contributed to this report., 561-243-6609

Related stories from Miami Herald