Bond hearing scheduled for Charleston man after wife's 2012 disappearance; murder charge expected

Bob McCaffrey was arrested on a fugitive warrant from Charleston in Dare County, North Carolina. (Source: Dare County, N.C. Detention Center)
Bob McCaffrey was arrested on a fugitive warrant from Charleston in Dare County, North Carolina. (Source: Dare County, N.C. Detention Center)
Gayle McCaffrey was reported missing on March 18, 2012. (Source: Charleston Co. Sheriff's Office)
Gayle McCaffrey was reported missing on March 18, 2012. (Source: Charleston Co. Sheriff's Office)
A billboard sought information on Gayle McCaffrey's disappearance. (Source: Live 5)
A billboard sought information on Gayle McCaffrey's disappearance. (Source: Live 5)

Six years after a West Ashley woman vanished, deputies brought her husband back to Charleston to face a murder charge in the 2012 case.

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Robert McCaffrey is expected to face a bond judge Thursday at 2 p.m.

He arrived in custody at the Charleston County jail Wednesday night where he is expected to be charged with murder in the death of his wife, Gayle, who disappeared in 2012. Robert "Bob" McCaffrey reported his wife was missing on March 18, 2012.

Charleston County Chief Deputy Eric Watson said at a Wednesday news conference McCaffrey was arrested in North Carolina Tuesday morning and would be charged Wednesday after his return to Charleston.

"During this investigation, we have reached out to experts in various disciplines to help us move this case forward," Watson said. "We have discussed this case over in detail with the solicitor's office. They have been very supportive in our efforts, and in conjunction with them, we determined this was the right time to make the call."

Watson described the case as "very complicated," but would not go into specifics about any new details that might have prompted the murder charge to be filed.

"Based on what we have so far, the evidence from six years ago has not changed that much, however, there is new information that came out, but we're not going to discuss that at this time," Watson said.

Affidavit provides more details in latest investigation

In a newly released affidavit, the sheriff's office says Gayle McCaffrey was legally classified as deceased in March of 2018.

The affidavit also states Bob McCaffrey has lied to investigators with the sheriff's office on numerous occasions, refused to cooperate with search efforts for his wife, and has declined any parental relationship with his children.

"There are no other identified suspects that could have killed and disposed of Gayle McCaffrey's body other than the defendant," CCSO officials said in the affidavit.

The affidavit also includes the findings of an investigator looking into a typed letter provided by Bob McCaffrey which he claimed his wife wrote.

A linguistics expert reviewed the note and determined that it was "more probable than not" that Gayle McCaffrey did not write the letter.

Sheriff Al Cannon has spoken about the letter before and called the contents "bogus." 

The letter stated the Gayle was running away with her lover "Nicky," and stated she removed a safe from an attic in their home that contained $110,000 in cash and collective coins. According to investigators, the letter also indicated that the safe had a gun which Gayle McCaffrey threatened to use against her husband if she pursued her.

Authorities say they questioned Bob McCaffrey about the safe and he told investigators that he did not know "Nicky," and that his wife would not be strong enough to remove the safe on her own.

The sheriff's office said an investigation revealed that the safe "did not exist in the manner" Bob McCaffrey detailed, and no one else who lived or visited the house had ever seen the safe, and there was no indication the safe had ever existed.

Investigators say they also believed that Gayle McCaffrey had booked a romantic getaway just two days before her disappearance.

They believe she was trying to reconcile their marriage.

Family attends and speaks at sheriff's office presser

McCaffrey's older sisters, Helen Banach and Debbie Pearson, also attended Wednesday's news conference. Banach spoke to reporters about her sister and the case.

"We have waited a very long time for today," she said. "For six years, we have looked for answers in Gayle's death. Gayle was very sweet, quiet and smart. Anyone that knew her knew that she loved her life, her kids, her family, her job, her church, and her friends. Her children were her world, and everything she did revolved around them. We've always known there was no chance that she just walked away from her life willingly and caused so much pain. She was always gentle and kind and she deserved a long and happy life. She deserved to be able to watch her children grow up and teach them how to be good people. They deserved to know how wonderful she was."

Banach said the family is hopeful that there might be justice for her murder and said their greatest wish is to find out where she has been hidden so they can bury her body.

Banach also addressed what she described as misconceptions she had seen in press reports about the case.

"Bob's lawyer is stating he has always been cooperative in the investigation," Banach said. "The police were able to question him the first night she disappeared before they knew anything about the situation or their relationship. Since then, for the past six years, they have not been allowed to ask him any other questions. Every time they ask to question him, Bob denies the request. He has never been forthcoming nor cooperative with this investigation."

"As far as his children being stolen from him, the morning after Gayle's disappearance, Bob signed a letter asking Debbie to take care of the children before he went to see his defense attorney for the first time," Banach said. "In the past six years, there have been three court hearings where he could have gotten his children back and there was nothing we could do to stop him. He never even bothered to show up for any of the hearings."

When asked about attempts to interview McCaffrey, Watson said McCaffrey has an attorney and the sheriff's office has no plans to talk to him without his attorney present.

"The family said it themsleves," he said when asked about prior attempts to interview McCaffrey. "I don't think I need to elaborate anymore on that one. It's a six-year investigation. Obviously, through our six-year investigation, we have made efforts to bring this case to a close."

McCaffrey was arrested shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday in Dare County, North Carolina, on a fugitive warrant, according to Charleston County Sheriff's Capt. Roger Antonio. He was being held at the Dare County Detention Center pending extradition to South Carolina.

McCaffrey waived extradition in North Carolina Tuesday, Watson said.

Gayle McCaffrey reported missing in March 2012

McCaffrey reported his wife missing on March 18, 2012 from their home on Limestone Boulevard. He told investigators they had gone out to eat on St. Patrick's Day, 2012, and had argued after they returned. He said he left to go for a walk, returned around 7:45 p.m. that same evening and saw his wife lying on their bed.

McCaffrey said his wife ignored him and he then left for their second home in Easley. When he returned the following morning at 6:30 a.m., he said she was gone and she had left her wedding ring, car keys and checkbook on the counter. She also left behind a typed letter, he said.

At a May 2, 2012, news conference, Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon called the contents of the typed letter "bogus."

After multiple searches over the next two years, deputies arrested McCaffrey on a charge of obstruction of justice on June 21, 2014, based on inconsistencies in a statement he provided to detectives during the investigation, Antonio said.

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