ORANGEBURG - ShaQuan Duley has been charged with murder after admitting to suffocating her two toddlers and then lying to investigators about an accident when the boys were found strapped into their car seats in Duley's car in the Edisto River.
"The responsibility of being a mom was a bit much for her," Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said Tuesday at a news conference.
"She admitted to killing the children. She didn't show any remorse."
Duley, 29, was unemployed and unable to support the children, she told investigators. She and the two boys as well as her 5-year-old daughter lived with Duley's mother, Helene Duley. ShaQuan Duley and her mother had a fight and Duley checked into a motel, where she suffocated Devean C. Duley, 2, and Ja’van T. Duley, 18 months.
Williams said Duley felt she could be free without the two toddlers. "She just wanted to get rid of the children," he said.
Renuka Patel manages Trumps Inn on Five Chop Road where Duley stayed with the children in Room 31. Patel said Duley arrived around 1:30 a.m. Sunday and paid for her room with a $100 bill. Patel saw no car and no children.
"She killed the babies in my room?" Patel asked. "How could she do that?"
She said Duley was old enough to have a sense of right and wrong.
Purnell Hughes, who works at the motel, said she didn't see a car or the children either, and she wondered if somebody else was involved somehow.
"Those were babies" she said. "They barely started walking."
After she suffocated the children, Duley was driving around with them in the car before it wound up submerged at a boat landing at Shillings Bridge Road on the Edisto River.
"She should have called somebody, I would have been willing to take them," Kevin Felder, Helene Duley's cousin, said of ShaQuan.
Orangeburg County Coroner Samuetta Marshall said there were indications that the 2-year-old put up a struggle because he had a few defensive wounds, but there were no such wounds on the 18-month-old.
Investigators have not yet located the father, but they don't believe he has any connection to the children's deaths. Duley's 5-year-old is with the grandmother.
She is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon. Duley has no criminal history or psychiatric history, Williams said.
Investigators said Duley told them a story about an accident involving the car but they couldn't find any physical evidence, such as skid marks on the road, to support her claims. It was then that they started to feel strongly that her story wasn't factual, Williams said.
A female investigator, speaking to her mother-to-mother, Williams said, was able to get Duley to admit what she had done.
Sherlean Edwards, who said she knows the family, described Duley as a nice, young lady.
"I am totally shocked," Edwards said. "The family seemed to be a real nice family. I don't know what happened."
Renee Bowers is a single mom with four kids ages 1, 2, 3 and 4 who lives in Helene Duley's neighborhood. She said that as a single mother she couldn't see herself getting frustrated enough to do anything like what Duley admitted to having done. She also noted that Duley had her mother living in the house with her as support.