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Sheriff: Woman suffocated sons before submerging bodies in car

By the CNN Wire Staff
August 17, 2010 4:48 p.m. EDT

Shaquan Duley, 29, is facing two counts of murder in the deaths of her sons, the Orangeburg County sheriff says.

Shaquan Duley, 29, is facing two counts of murder in the deaths of her sons, the Orangeburg County sheriff says.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Authorities say the children were dead before they went into the water
  • Sheriff says a South Carolina mother admitted she suffocated two of her kids
  • Shaquan Duley, 29, will be charged with murder, sheriff says
  • The bodies of Duley’s two children were found in South Carolina’s Edisto River

See local coverage with CNN affiliates WOLO-TV, WIS-TV and WLTX-TV in Columbia.

(CNN) — Unemployed, single and apparently fed up with criticism from her mother, a 29-year-old Orangeburg, South Carolina, woman suffocated her two toddlers with her bare hands before strapping them into car seats and submerging her car in a river, authorities said Tuesday.

Shaquan Duley is facing two counts of murder in the deaths of her sons, ages 1 and 2, said Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams. She is set to appear in court Wednesday.

“She was a mother that was unemployed. She had no means of taking care of her children,” Williams told reporters. “She lives with her mother and her mother was a very, I guess, firm individual. … She often talked with her daughter about, I guess, maybe being more of a mother or being more reliable.”

Mother and daughter argued the night before the children’s bodies were found early Monday in Duley’s Chrysler sedan, submerged in the Edisto River, he said.

“We believe this is a direct response (to the argument) from Ms. Duley,” he said. “I believe she was just fed up with her mother telling her she couldn’t take care of the children and she wasn’t taking care of her children and she just wanted to be free.”

Video: Police: Mom admits to killing sons//

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Video: Sheriff: Murder charges sought//

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Video: Car sinks with boys inside//

However, he said, “this wasn’t a hardened criminal. This was a young lady in trouble, in trouble in more ways than she realized.” Duley has no previous criminal history, he said.

Duley’s third child, a 5-year-old daughter, was at the home of Duley’s mother. Police identified the dead children as Ja’van T. Duley, age 1, and Devean C. Duley, 2.

Under questioning, Duley told authorities she smothered the boys by putting her hand over their mouths at the Trumps Inn in Orangeburg, Williams said. She drove them to the river while “trying to find a way to discard the bodies,” he said.

“She just wanted to get rid of the children, as sad as it may be,” Williams said. Authorities do not know how long the boys had been dead before they went into the water, he said.

Duley initially reported that she had lost control of the car and it had rolled into the river. But authorities from the outset believed her story didn’t add up, Williams said. Her clothes were dry, he said, and there were no skid marks or other indications of an accident at the scene.

In addition, Duley reported she had walked a mile before flagging down a motorist to call for help, Williams said previously. The sheriff told CBS’ “The Early Show” that she could have run to residences nearby.

Authorities responded to a report of a car accident near a boat landing on the river Monday, and divers found the children’s bodies.

Williams said Monday he couldn’t confirm reports that the key was still in the car’s ignition, but he said the car apparently was in neutral.

Ramona Milhouse told CNN she lives next to the boat landing, and her house and a neighbor’s house are clearly visible from the road. She said she was at home around the time Duley told authorities she lost control of her car.

“I don’t know why the young lady would walk that far when we are here, that’s easy to see, and we have phones so we could have called someone for her,” Milhouse said.

In addition, she said, the road near the landing is a busy one. “It’s not a quiet country road,” she said. “There’s a lot of people driving up and down, all parts of the day and night.”

She said she did not see the car go into the water, but heard sirens as authorities responded.

“When I heard what happened, I just couldn’t go to sleep at all, thinking about those two little boys,” she said.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Duley had retained an attorney.

Williams described Duley as distraught, but said she showed no signs of remorse.

“I don’t believe she woke up and said, ‘I’m going to the Shillings Bridge Road to get rid of my children,'” he said. “Of course, that hasn’t been determined. I believe she was just angry, upset and for some reason found the boat ramp, but mind you the children were deceased … so (she was) trying to find a way to discard the bodies.”

The father of the two children has not been found, Williams said. Duley “was more or less being mother and father for the children,” he said.

“The mom has basically been a good mom,” he said, but was just unable to financially support the children. “For whatever reason, this was her weakest moment,” he said.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services has no record of prior involvement with Duley, department spokeswoman Marilyn Matheus said.

The incident has striking similarities to a 1994 case, also in South Carolina. The bodies of Michael Daniel Smith, 3, and 14-month-old Alexander Tyler Smith were found in their mother’s car, still strapped into their car seats, in John D. Long Lake in Union, South Carolina. Their mother, Susan Smith, was convicted on two counts of murder, but jurors opted to spare her the death penalty and she was sentenced to life in prison.

The case inflamed racial tensions in Union, because Susan Smith claimed at first she had been carjacked by an African-American man. She stuck to that story for nine days, issuing tearful pleas for her sons’ return on national media outlets, before confessing to authorities. Prosecutors alleged she killed her children after being rejected by a man she was dating who did not want children.

Duley spent two years as a cashier at a Dairy-O fast-food restaurant a couple of years ago, said assistant manager Grace Simpson.

“She was such a good-natured person, very friendly, but quiet,” Simpson recalled. “Never disciplined. Never in trouble with our boss. She left because she chose to. We don’t have health insurance here, and she wanted to just move on and up with her life maybe.”

At the time Duley worked for Dairy-O, she did not have children, Simpson believes. Simpson did not know if she was married at the time.

“Whatever compelled Shaquan to do what she did … Lord please be with her,” said Simpson. “I cannot judge Shaquan. I will not judge her. But God, be kind to her.”

HLN’s Natisha Lance and CNN’s Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.

Sheriff: Woman suffocated sons before submerging bodies in car – CNN.com.

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CYFD Speaks Out About Child Abuse In Dona Ana County

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Phil Anaya-KFOX News Reporter

Posted: 6:11 pm MDT July 21, 2010Updated: 9:29 pm MDT July 21, 2010

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — After the recent death of 5-year-old Angel Barron, who Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Deputies said died from abuse of her own mother, as well as several other recent severe child abuse cases, many are wondering why some people are continuing to hurt their children. KFOX news reporter Phil Anaya went to Albuquerque to speak with New Mexico’s Children Youth and Families Department spokeswoman Romaine Serna about the issue.“I think that we’re all trying to figure out why Dona Ana (County) is experiencing these cases that are just tragic,” said Serna.Serna said child abuse isn’t on the rise, but cases are becoming more severe. At an overall state level, she said it’s hard to tell what part of New Mexico has the biggest problem with child abuse, but statistics from May 2009 to May 2010 show that CYFD investigated 231 cases, or about 19 a month. That state average during the same time frame was 179 cases, or 14 a month.Even with some cases of child abuse resulting in death, CYFD stands firm in that it’s doing the it can to protect children.“I think that’s a really hard question to answer, because when you had a child die to abuse, it’s hard to say we did the very best possible. But that doesn’t mean CYFD didn’t follow our policy our procedures and didn’t make decisions based on the information we had available to us at that point,” said Serna.Serna said unless someone has worked for Child Protective Services, judgment and finger-pointing should be limited. Furthermore, she said the community can have some faith that CYFD is being held accountable because there are plenty of other agencies and organizations keeping it on its toes.CYFD said it is under the scrutiny of judges, countywide citizens review boards, court-appointed special advocate programs, the New Mexico Children’s Code and probably its biggest critic, the federal government.“The feds come in, the Children’s Bureau comes in and reviews states, and if you don’t meet the criteria set forth, then they have the ability to set monetary sanctions,” said Serna.Serna said, at the end of the day, there’s really only one person or people who can take full blame for child abuse.“I don’t think we should lose sight of the true perpetrator here and that’s the individual who caused harm on the child,” said Serna.CYFD said it is working on a way to make reporting child abuse easier for others. It’s hoping to have an easy hyphen to hyphen remember four digit phone number the same way New Mexico does for DWIs.And since the death of Angel Barron, CYFD has also announced it will be hosting a community forum in Las Cruces. The event will be Tuesday, July 27 from 6-8 p.m. at the Dona Ana County Government Building at 845 Motel Blvd.

Copyright 2010 by KFOXTV.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mother accused of starving 3 kids gets life term

By JEFF CARLTON Associated Press Writer The Associated Press
Friday, July 30, 2010 5:40 PM EDT

FILE -This July 20, 2009 file photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office… (AP Photo/Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, File)

DALLAS (AP) — A mother whose three children were found starving after being shut away in a hotel bathroom for as long as nine months was sentenced to life in prison Friday after changing her plea to guilty in the middle of her trial.

Abneris Santiago, 31, had faced between five years and life in prison on a felony charge of injury to a child.

Police rescued Santiago’s 11-year-old daughter and 10- and 5-year-old sons from a bathroom at an extended-stay hotel along one of Dallas’ busiest freeways in July 2009. The children, whose skeletons were visible beneath their flaky, stretched skin, were near death from chronic starvation. Authorities say the girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend.

Alfred Santiago was convicted Tuesday of injury to a child and continuous sexual abuse. He was sentenced to two 99-year sentences, to be served concurrently.

The former couple share a last name but never married.

Abneris Santiago’s plea on the third day of testimony came a day after she apologized to her daughter in a tearful courtroom reunion, saying she wasn’t strong enough to stop the abuse. The girl said she loved her mother and did not want her to go to prison.

Prosecutor Eren Price addressed the girl’s concern in her closing argument, asking the jury to sentence Santiago to life in prison.

“One day (the girl) will understand,” Price said, adding that she wanted the jury to let Santiago know that she was the “worst of the worst.”

The defendant apparently thought her guilty plea Friday would end the proceedings and was confused after testimony continued before the jury for purposes of sentencing.

“I think this is unnecessary since I already pleaded myself guilty,” Santiago told the judge. “I want it over with. This is pointless.”

Instead, prosecutors called to the stand the doctors who treated Santiago’s children last summer.

Dr. Susan Scott, an emergency room physician, said the girl “looked like a skeleton with skin.” A photograph pinned to the courtroom wall showed the girl’s bare back, her ribs and spine clearly defined.

American mom charged with murdering 3 children


By BEN McCONVILLE, Associated Press Writer Ben Mcconville, Associated Press Writer Fri Aug 6, 5:47 pm ET

EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scottish police on Friday charged the American mother of three children who were found dead in an Edinburgh town house with their murder.

Theresa Riggi, 46, was arrested late Friday after police completed autopsies on her children: 8-year-old twins Augustino and Gianluca and their 5-year-old sister Cecilia.

The children were discovered after a gas explosion Wednesday at the town house, but are not thought to have died as a result of the blast. Riggi is hospitalized in serious but stable condition after apparently falling from an upper story of the house on the same day.

“Due to the medical condition of the accused, it is not at this time known when she will appear in court,” a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Riggi and her husband, American oil industry executive Pasquale Riggi, 46, of Colorado, were getting divorced and contesting the custody of their children.

Scottish authorities said the couple were due to attend court hearings in the case this week, and on Tuesday a judge raised concerns over the children’s safety when their mother failed to appear for the divorce proceedings.

Police said they are investigating the circumstances of the deaths and have interviewed the children’s father, but confirmed he is not a suspect in the case.

They said the autopsies on the children were completed Friday. No details were disclosed, but a report has been submitted to prosecutors, police said.

Pasquale Riggi described his anguish over the death of his children.

“Our family is struggling to come to terms with the immense and tragic loss of three beautiful children,” he said in a statement issued by Edinburgh’s Lothian and Borders police department.

His wife and the children went missing from the family’s home in Aberdeen, a port town about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Edinburgh, on July 21, prompting police to launch a search.

Pasquale Riggi grew up in Colorado, where he attended Denver’s Regis Jesuit High School, graduating in 1982. He serves as an executive with Royal Dutch Shell PLC in Scotland, and had previously worked with the company in the Netherlands.




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