WEST PALM BEACH — Fighting for custody of his two children in 2008, Clem Beauchamp preached of the meaning of fatherhood, extolled his parenting skills and told of how he helped with homework and gave life lessons.
So compelling was his self-promotion and denigration of the children's mother, the court awarded him custody, though it was rescinded about a year later when he wasn't complying with the terms.
Now those two children he fought to keep are in the state's custody, and two others who lived with him are dead, found stuffed in luggage last week in a Delray Beach canal. Their mother is dead, too, finally identified after her body was found in August. Though Beauchamp has not been charged in the deaths, authorities say he is the sole suspect in all three killings.
Beauchamp is being held on firearms charges unrelated to the deaths of 10-year-old Jermaine McNeil, 6-year-old Ju'tyra Allen and 25-year-old Felicia Brown. A judge Wednesday refused to grant him bond or to appoint him a public defender.
In an Aug. 26, 2008, hearing, Beauchamp described himself as a hard-working, involved father. He described their mother — his on-again, off-again girlfriend Michelle Dent — as irresponsible.
Brown, then his fiance, even spoke highly of Beauchamp when he called her as a witness.
Addressing Dent, Brown said: "He gave you chance after chance, you know, to change and do things better."
The judge agreed, saying in May 2009 the children should live with Beauchamp, and ordered that he no longer pay child support to Dent. But a year later, when Beauchamp failed to allow the children to see Dent on weekends, the court said the kids should live with their mother.
The order didn't last long. Brown soon disappeared — Beauchamp told neighbors she was in jail — and neighbors said Dent began staying at his home with their children and Brown's children.