A South Carolina mother who claimed her children drowned when her car careened into a river was charged with murder Tuesday after authorities said she confessing to suffocating the two toddlers and then faking the accident.
Sheriff Larry Williams said 29-year-old Shaquan Duley told investigators she was distraught about her money troubles and unemployment and that she killed her killed her children by putting her hand over their mouths after a dispute with her own mother. He says Duley then strapped the children into her car and drove it into a river Monday morning.
"This was a young lady that was in trouble, in trouble in more ways than she realized," Williams said. "She was in trouble and she didn't know where to turn."
Williams said the responsibilities of being a mother were simply too much for the mother, who didn't show signs of remorse during an overnight interview with authorities.
Two-year-old Devean C. Duley and 18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley were dead in their child seats by the time divers got to the car Monday near a rural boat landing on the North Edisto River in Orangeburg, some 35 miles south of Columbia, the state capital.
The Highway Patrol was notified around 6:15 a.m. that a woman needed help getting her children out of a car. Duley, who did not have a cell phone, had walked some distance down the country road by the boat landing and flagged down a passing motorist to call the Highway Patrol.
Duley was to be arraigned later Wednesday.
Earlier, Williams told "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge there were "issues" surrounding her account that she was involved in a wreck and could not get the children out of the car.
Williams said that early in the investigation, state patrol officers felt the facts didn't support that there was accident, including lack of skid marks and other physical evidence.
He also noted that Duley's clothes weren't damp, as they would have been had she tried to save her sons, and he said she didn't show the emotions you'd expect from a mother in such circumstances.}
Highway Patrol was notified about 6:15 a.m. that a woman needed help getting her children out of a car. Shaquan Duley, who did not have a cell phone, had walked some distance down the country road by the boat landing and flagged down a passing motorist to call the Highway Patrol.
"Why would she walk all that distance?" 81-year-old Ramona Milhouse, whose side porch door is steps from South Carolina's North Edisto River, said. "It's just awful."
The story is reminiscent of an infamous South Carolina case in 1994. Susan Smith left her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons strapped in their car seats as she rolled her car into a lake in Union County in the northwest part of the state. She was convicted in their deaths and is serving a life prison term.
Milhouse said when she and her husband woke up and looked outside, rescue workers were already at the car, and she could see the head of one boy above the water. The car had to come from the boat landing, on the other side of a concrete bridge adjoining her property, and down the slow-moving river, said Milhouse, who's lived full-time at the riverside home for about 35 years.
"It's real low," she said, so it could have taken awhile.
The car windows were up, and she heard rescuers say the ignition was on. She watched as the car was pulled down the middle of the river and hauled onto the bridge with a crane.