Courts & Crime

Community bids painful farewell to slain toddlers

ORANGEBURG, S.C. -- Hundreds celebrated the short lives of Devean and Ja’van Duley, the two toddlers allegedly smothered and driven into a river by their mother, as church elders urged the community to “look out for one another” and find peace in God.

“There was a time when I was a little boy, these things wouldn’t happen,” Deacon Nathaniel Rhodes told mourners at St. Paul Baptist Church. Neighbors looked out for neighbors, he said, and children were watched over by the community and disciplined when they got out of line without fear of reprisal.

“We’ve got to go back to the old times,” Rhodes said. “We can’t leave everything to God. We have to walk that Christian life together.” He added: “If we leave it up to the judiciary system, things aren’t going to change.”

Prior to and at the beginning of the service, mourners filed by the identical caskets to pay their respects, their maternal grandmother, Helen Duley, leaning down for a few moments over each child.

The name of Shaquan Renee Duley, who allegedly smothered her children at a local motel Monday, strapped them into their car seats and drove the car into the North Edisto River, was never mentioned.

But her presence was felt in the dozens of family photographs projected onto the sanctuary’s audio-visual screens before the service. The youngsters were pictured singly and together in loving family scenes, playing with toys, little hats perched joyfully on their heads.

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