ORANGEBURG -- A steady stream of mourners passed through a funeral home Thursday paying final respects to two toddlers and trying to make sense of the deaths of the brothers whose bodies were pulled from a car in a South Carolina river.
Shaquan Duley, 29, is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of her sons. Authorities allege she smothered the boys after a fight with her own mother, who she said constantly badgered her about her failures as a parent and inability to provide for her family.
The youngsters' bodies were recovered Monday from a boat landing just outside Orangeburg. Authorities say the mother put the children in the car after suffocating them.
The funeral will be held today for Devean C. Duley, 2, and his 18-month-old brother, Ja'van T. Duley. On Thursday, the toddlers reposed in small white coffins in the chapel of a funeral home as dozens of mourners filed past.
On the wall above, a video monitor showed pictures of the Duley family in happier times -- baby pictures of the boys and pictures of the children posing with their mom. Some mourners fought back tears as they passed the coffins and walked out of the funeral home.
Betty Fogle-Bovein, a minister, said she went to school with the suspect's mother.
"There are a lot of underlying circumstances," she said. "Sometimes people are going through deep emotional problems that they don't let us see."
She added: "It's such a tragedy and we're praying for them and what's best for them -- that God will bless them."
Members of the Duley family declined to speak with a reporter Thursday. The family, too, was receiving mourners at their modest yellow wood-frame home. Attached to the porch post was a small spray of white flowers tied with a white ribbon.
Flossie Brindle, a retired nurse, paid her respects at the funeral home and earlier stopped by the boat landing. She said she didn't know the family but said she would have helped had she known there was a problem.
"Oh my goodness. I would have took the little boys. That's all she had to say," Brindle said as she looked at the makeshift memorial at the landing. Stuffed animals, some of them soaked by the rain, were lined up along with balloons, tributes, flowers and children's toys.
Outside the funeral home, retiree Jamie Smith said the deaths of those so young are tragic.
"We all know when we come through the door we gotta go out," she said. "But you don't expect to see little kids like that. They haven't even had their first day of school. It's just a sad situation but we've got to pray harder now."
Smith said she wouldn't be attending the funeral today.
"I just don't think I could do all that. With the grieving, I would just break down myself," she said.