DELRAY BEACH — Police questioned a man Thursday in the deaths of two children whose bodies were stuffed into luggage and dumped into a South Florida canal.
Delray Beach Sgt. Nicole Guerriero said police were talking to Clem Beauchamp but that he had not been arrested or charged. Investigators had tentatively identified the children as siblings but had not released their names or said whether Beauchamp is related to them.
Neighbors say Beauchamp lives with his children — from a current and a past relationship — in the small home that was surrounded by traffic barricades and yellow police tape Thursday night.
Investigators said the girl, whose body was found Wednesday inside a duffel bag, was between 6 and 10 years old. The boy, whose body was discovered hours later inside a suitcase about a half-mile away, was between 10 and 12.
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," said Guerriero, who declined to elaborate.
Court records show that the 34-year-old Beauchamp was arrested several times over the past 15 years. The most serious incident was in 1995, aggravated assault with a firearm, and resulted in an 18-month jail sentence.
It was not immediately known whether Beauchamp has a lawyer.
Margaret Gissone, 22, who said she is the sister of a former girlfriend of Beauchamp's, said it's been terrible waiting for police to identify the children.
The wide canal where the bodies were found 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 motorboats.
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.
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.