Family, community gather to say goodbye to murdered Orangeburg toddlers

18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley, left, and 2-year-old Devean C. Duley
18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley, left, and 2-year-old Devean C. Duley

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS/AP) — Members of a community struggling to understand the deaths of 2 South Carolina toddlers are saying goodbye to the energetic boys authorities say were killed by their mother.

Pastor Charcey Priester told the family at the funeral Friday for 2-year-old Devean Duley and 18-month-old Ja'van Duley to rely on God.

Hundreds of mourners filed past the small white caskets before the service. The boys were dressed in matching white tuxedos. Some people dropped off stuffed animals, books and flowers.

The boys' 29-year-old mother, Shaquan Duley, was not allowed to attend. Investigators say she confessed to smothering her children Sunday night then staging a car accident to cover up the deaths.

She is in jail awaiting a bail hearing on murder charges.

A steady stream of mourners paid respects to the two toddlers Thursday as well.

One of the mourners who knew the victim's family says the mother was facing terrible problems. Another said she would have taken the children had she known of the situation.

Twenty-nine-year-old Shaquan Duley told authorities 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 financially provide for her family.

Thursday morning's paper in Orangeburg honored their short but meaningful lives. Ja'Van was described as an adorable little boy who loved to play with his big brother and sister. He's remembered for being an inquisitive toddler who loved to eat pizza and hot dogs. His family and friends call him "a joy."

Devean was described as bright-eyed, busy and smart. His family says he loved to help his little brother, watch cartoons, and play in the backyard. He's called "a blessing."

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