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Shaquan Duley is the mother from Orangeburg, SC, who suffocated her two sons Devean, 2, and Ja’van, 18 months old before strapping them into their car seats and rolling the car into the meandering Edisto River. Duley was unemployed and financially strapped; she was living along with her two son, her 5-year-old daughter and her mother.

How did this happen? Duley got into an argument with her mother about the welfare of the children, Duley left and checked into the Trumps Inn motel where investigators believed she killed the children. Reports state that Duley drove around with the deceased children in the backseat until she found the rural Shillings Bridge Road boat landing where she either pushed or rolled the car into the river. More than likely she rolled the car because when authorities found her there were no skid marks and her clothes were not wet.

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So Shaquan Duley was a single, unemployed and a mother of 3 living with her mother in a city mostly made up of African Americans, we are not condoning Duley’s behavior, what she did was inexcusable and she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But we must remember that we are living in an America where today the economic stability of people color is still below the poverty level. That’s not an excuse for killing your children but being unemployed and raising 3 children with no means of income can drive anyone to the edge. As the Sheriff of Orangeburg, SC told reporters 

‘She was a mother that was unemployed and had no means of taking care of her children. The responsibility of being a mom was a bit much for her.”

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This is a sad and by no means is Shaquan Duley a victim, this same situation happened 16 years ago. Susan Smith, of Union, South Carolina, rolled her car into John D. Long Lake with her two boys, Michael, 3, and Alexander, 14 months, strapped into their car seats inside. She told police she was carjacked by an African-American man who had driven off with her children. Smith and her husband, David, pleaded on television for the return of their kids. Nine days after Susan Smith reported the ‘carjacking,’ investigators got her to reveal that her children were submerged in the lake, and police found the car and the bodies. Smith was convicted in 1995 and is serving a life sentence at Leath Correctional Institution in Greenwood, South Carolina. She will be eligible for parole in 2024. 

Now some will have you believe that these cases are similar, yes both women killed their children which are true, but the circumstances are different. Smith had a husband; she had what was thought to be a stable life with her husband. Duely was broke, jobless and berated by her mother at every end for her failings. These two cases are not the same, the pressures of life effect us all in different ways. There seemed to be no stability in the home, where was the father of these young children? Could this story have had another outcome? 

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