Image: Officials search canal
Jon Way  /  AP
Officials in Delray Beach, Fla., search a canal for evidence on Thursday after two children were discovered dead there, their bodies stuffed into luggage.
By
updated 3/3/2011 8:57:05 PM ET 2011-03-04T01:57:05

Police were questioning 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 has not been arrested or charged. Investigators have tentatively identified the children as siblings but have not released their names or said if Beauchamp is related to them.

Neighbors say Beauchamp lives with his children from a current and past relationship in the small peach home that was surrounded by traffic barricades and yellow police tape Thursday night.

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Investigators said the girl, whose body was found Wednesday in a duffel bag, was between 6 and 10 years old. The boy, whose body was discovered hours later in a suitcase about a half-mile away, was between 10 and 12.

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.

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"We believe that this situation is domestic-related," said Guerriero, who declined to elaborate.

Court records say the 34-year-old Beauchamp was arrested several times over the last 15 years. The most serious was in 1995, for aggravated assault with a firearm, and resulted in an 18-month jail sentence.

It was not immediately known if Beauchamp has a lawyer.

Margaret Gissone, 22, who said she is the sister of Beauchamp's ex-girlfriend, said it's been terrible waiting for police to identify the children, and wondering whether they are her niece and nephew.

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 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.

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.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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