CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- More than a decade has passed since Marjorie “Gayle” McCaffrey disappeared from her West Ashley home without a trace, and detectives are still looking for answers.
On the evening of March 17, 2012, Gayle and her husband Robert “Bob” McCaffrey got into a heated argument, prompting Bob to leave his home, wife, and two young children and head for upstate South Carolina.
That night would be the last time anyone saw Gayle McCaffrey alive.
When he returned the next morning, Bob reported that his wife was missing and that she had left behind a farewell letter.
At the time, Gayle was working at the Citadel, and despite interviews with friends, neighbors, and coworkers, no one could point investigators in the direction of her whereabouts.
Another six years would pass until investigators finally started to piece the puzzle together.
Through the course of the investigation, it was revealed that Bob had lied about where he went that night in March 2012. He initially said that he went to visit family in Easley, S.C. to assess his marriage, but detectives determined that he had actually gone to meet a person with whom he was having an affair in Traveler’s Rest, S.C.
Bob reportedly waited twelve hours after he returned to Charleston to report his wife’s disappearance to police, an affidavit said.
But, the lies did not end there.
According to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), Bob said that Gayle had left home in the middle of the night while their two children were asleep. She did not take a cell phone, wallet, keys, or car with her.
Affidavits further stated that the goodbye letter that Bob claimed his wife had left was fraudulent. In the letter, “Gayle” wrote that she was running away with her lover Nicky and that she had taken a safe containing a large amount of cash and a gun with her.
But, investigators said that people they spoke with said the safe did not exist and that there was “ample evidence” to support that Gayle was trying to reconcile her marriage, including a romantic getaway booked just days before she disappeared.
Gayle’s sister, Debbie Pearson, and other family members maintained that Bob’s story did not add up and repeatedly questioned his behavior.
As it turns out, a linguistics expert later determined that it was more than likely that Gayle had not in fact written the letter provided to authorities.
In 2018, Bob was named a primary suspect and charged with murder in connection with his wife’s disappearance, but a grand jury declined to indict him.
A year later, in March 2019, Bob was convicted on obstruction of justice charges for lying to police throughout the investigation, including about the letter. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Family members and supporters have been circulating petitions for years aimed at keeping McCaffrey behind bars.
Bob was denied parole twice — in January of 2021 and 2022 — and remains in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) in a work-release facility.
According to information from SCDC, Bob will become eligible for supervised reentry on May 16.
The case continues to be investigated as a homicide.
“We continue to appeal to anyone, anywhere to let us know if they have any seemingly insignificant piece of information that could be helpful to our detectives,” CCSO spokesperson Andrew Knapp said. “Our hope is to bring Gayle McCaffrey home and bring closure for her family.”
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact CCSO Detective Barry Goldstein at 843-554-2241.