South Carolina mother told friend she was 'fed up'

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — On this, they all agree.

Shaquan Renee Duley was quiet. She spoke when spoken to, often with a smile.

She never gave her parents or her neighbors any trouble while growing up in an old mill village at the edge of Orangeburg County’s fairgrounds.

Until her arrest Monday made national news, Duley lived an unremarkable life. She graduated from high school, bounced between jobs and struggled to raise three children.

For now, Shaquan Duley’s family is not talking. But her friends are, and they say they want to know more about what led police to accuse the 29-year-old mother of smothering her young sons, driving them in her car to the North Edisto River and pushing them into the slow-moving water in hopes of covering up the crime.

Annette Blocker, a 65-year-old former neighbor, said she couldn’t believe it when one of her daughters called Monday with news of the two murder charges against Duley.

“I said, ‘Noooo! Something had to go wrong for Shaquan to do that,’” Blocker said. “What’s wrong? I just don’t know.”

But police said the stress of being an unemployed, single mother was bearing down. Sunday night, the day before the boys were found, Duley had a fight with her mother and left the house they shared, taking her two boys, 2-year-old Devean and 18-month-old Ja’van with her, Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said. She left her 5-year-old daughter behind.

The fight with her mother started over who would give Ja’van a bath, said Chea Phelps, a 22-year-old friend who said she spoke to Shaquan Duley that night after Shaquan left the house.

“She was telling me she was tired,” Phelps said. “She was fed up.”

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