published Friday, March 4th, 2011

Man questioned in deaths of kids found in canal

By MATT SEDENSKY

Associated Press

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Police said they were questioning a suspect Thursday in the deaths of two children whose bodies were stuffed into luggage and dumped into a canal.

Delray Beach Sgt. Nicole Guerriero said they were talking to Clem Beauchamp. She did not release his age. Neighbors say he lives in a house that police had cordoned off Thursday. She said he has not been arrested or charged. It was not immediately known if Beuchamp has a lawyer.

Investigators say they have tentatively identified the children as siblings but have not released their names or if Beauchamp is related to them. They have said the girl was between 6 and 10 years old and the boy between 10 and 12.

Their bodies were found Wednesday. The girl’s body was in a duffel bag. The boy was discovered hours later in a suitcase about a half-mile away.

Divers used sonar and a remote-controlled submarine to scour the canal Thursday.

Authorities did not know how long the bodies had been in the water. Autopsy reports were not immediately released.

“We believe that this situation is domestic-related,” Guerriero said. She declined to elaborate and said officers were “working to confirm everything we believe.”

The wide canal flows east to west through this oceanside town southeast of West Palm Beach. The water is bordered by modest homes, tiny wooden docks and small motor boats, and dotted on either side with the lush green of palms and other trees.

Debbie Duarte, who lives along the canal, said the neighborhood is usually quiet. Before now, she said, the most surprising thing to turn up in the waterway was a bag of marijuana.

“For parents not to say their children are missing, either the parents are dead or the parents did it,” she said.

Throughout the day, small boats of divers and other police combed the canal for clues. Guerriero said they found nothing.

Under a tree near the banks of the canal, a tiny makeshift memorial took shape, with a teddy bear, a hippo spotted with pink hearts and two bunches of carnations.

Police surrounded a small peach-colored house in a nearby neighborhood, but officers would not confirm any link to the case.

Reporters and curious residents converged on the home, which was surrounded by unkempt, spindly bushes and had a car parked on the front lawn. Hurricane shutters covered a side window.

Kenneth Marshall, 43, who sometimes stays with his mother across the street, said he often saw a man at the house playing football with his boys in the street.

“He really paid a lot of attention to his kids,” Marshall said.

Marshall said he last saw the children two or three weeks ago.

“We’ve been asking for the mom for a couple days, and all he’s been saying is, ’She’s in jail,”’ he said.

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