- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina mother who claimed her children drowned when their car careened into a river was charged with murder Tuesday after authorities said she confessed to suffocating the two toddlers and then faking the accident.

Shaquan Duley, 29, told investigators she was distraught about money troubles and unemployment, said Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams. He said Ms. Duley told them she killed the boys — 2-year-old Devean C. Duley and 18-month-old Ja’van T. Duley — with her hands after having a fight with her own mother about how she was raising the children.

“I believe there was an emotional rush,” Sheriff Williams said at a news conference. “I think that the opportunity presented itself, and she reacted to whatever condition presented itself for her to get rid of the children.”

Officials said they were unable to locate the children’s father, who did not live with the family. Ms. Duley has another child, a 5-year-old girl, who was now with the grandmother.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol was notified around 6:15 a.m. Monday that a woman needed help getting her children out of a car. Ms. Duley, who did not have a cell phone, walked some distance down a country road and flagged down a passing motorist to call the Highway Patrol.

Later that morning, authorities pulled Ms. Duley’s Chrysler sedan from the North Edisto River in Orangeburg, some 35 miles south of Columbia, the state capital. The two boys still were strapped into their car seats.

Ms. Duley said she had had an accident and walked to get help. But almost immediately, Sheriff Williams said, authorities became suspicious of the young mother’s story. There were no skid marks on the roads leading to the water, and no obvious signs of a crash.

“We felt that the story she was telling us wasn’t factual,” Sheriff Williams said.

Deputies interrogated Ms. Duley throughout the night, asking her questions about her family. Eventually, Sheriff Williams said, Ms. Duley broke down and admitted to deputies that, strained by the responsibilities of being a mother, she had killed her sons, driven their bodies to the water and forced the car in.

“I think she was fed up with her mother telling her she couldn’t take care of the children, or she wasn’t taking care of the children and just wanted to be free,” Sheriff Williams said.

After that argument, Sheriff Williams said, Ms. Duley checked into a motel in Orangeburg with the two youngest children. In that motel room, he said, the mother put her hands over her children’s‘ mouths and suffocated them.

Ms. Duley was to be arraigned Wednesday. Authorities were not sure whether she had an attorney.


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