FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 25-year-old mother whose decomposing body was found in a South Florida landfill may have been the star witness against an ex-boyfriend suspected of killing her and her two children, whose bodies were found in luggage floating in a canal, according to recently released court documents.
Prosecutors hoped Felicia Brown would cement their 2010 case against Clem Beauchamp, who had faced unrelated charges of illegally possessing a handgun and homemade silencer — but she disappeared. Beauchamp has not been charged in the deaths of Brown or her children, but police have said he's the prime suspect.
Beauchamp pleaded guilty to the silencer charge under a plea deal reached Monday, with the state dropping two other weapons-related charges.
Prosecutors had contacted Brown about testifying in the weapons case in June 2010. Her body was found two months later but went unidentified until her two children, 10-year-old Jermaine McNeil and 6-year-old Ju'trya Allen, were found in the Delray Beach canal in March. The children lived with Beauchamp after their mother disappeared.
Beauchamp was arrested on the weapons violations days after the children's bodies were found.
It was not clear if Beauchamp knew Brown had planned to testify. Beauchamp's attorney, Robert Berube, said Monday that his client did not know that Brown planned to testify and was not involved in the deaths of her or her children. However, a prosecutor who interviewed Beauchamp in April 2010 — before Brown vanished — noted that Beauchamp knew she may be used as a witness.
Berube accused the state of trying to put on a murder trial even though Beauchamp hasn't been charged.
Delray Beach Police have said only that they were still investigating the deaths and did not return a call seeking comment Monday. But holding Beauchamp on the weapons charges has given authorities time to try to build their case, which was detailed in recently released court documents and audio recordings.
A transcript of an audio conversation between Brown and her ex-husband shows Brown admitting she bought the gun for Beauchamp and saying the silencer originated with him. The gun, silencer, ammunition, fake cocaine and a Halloween mask were found in a car on Halloween 2009.
In the April 2010 conversation, Brown said she worried she would take the fall for the gun and the silencer.
"I already said it was my gun. I did purchase it from this dude so then it's all gonna come back on me. That's what I'm saying. The, the, silencer, the gun. Everything," according to the transcripts of the conversation recorded by her ex-husband.
Investigators contacted Brown in June 2010 about testifying against Beauchamp. She agreed to meet one of the prosecutors but skipped her appointment. The prosecutor tried to contact Brown several times after that but never reached her, according to court documents.
Her badly decomposing body was found about two months later, yet it would take authorities months to identify her — tattoos of her dead children's' names ultimately connected them.
Brown, born in poverty and a three-time teenage mother, suffered years of abuse as a child and struggled to keep her family together. At one point she gave up custody of all three children but was reunited with two after parenting classes, substance abuse treatment and home supervision, according to court documents.
After the children's bodies were found, authorities seized computers and other evidence from Beauchamp's home. Someone searched the computer for information on life insurance for children. Another search dating back to 2009 also included information about silencers, according to court documents.
Prosecutors also said a fellow inmate would testify that "Beauchamp confessed to killing Felicia Brown," according to court documents.
Berube said those allegations were "totally inaccurate."
"My client did not confess to killing anybody," Berube said.
Beauchamp faces a maximum of ten years for the weapons charge, although the state said it would not oppose his request for a lower sentence under the deal. Sentencing was set for October.