Details of Disappearance Gayle was last seen at her residence on Limestone Boulevard in the West Ashley neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina on March 17, 2012. Her husband, Robert McCaffrey, said they went out to eat that afternoon, and after returning home they got into an argument. He went out for a walk, and when he returned at 7:45 p.m., Gayle was in bed ignoring him.
Robert stated he left again at 10:00 p.m. He maintained an address in Easley, North Carolina, and initially told the police he went there, but this was a lie. He says when he returned home to Charleston at 6:30 a.m. the next day, Gayle wasn't there and their two children, aged ten and four, were alone in the house, asleep in bed.
She'd left her wedding band and a typed goodbye letter, saying she would always love him and their children but wanted to be with a man named "Nicky", and that Robert should not look for her. She left her Jeep, cellular phone, wallet and checkbook behind, but Robert said a 350-pound safe containing a gun and $110,000 in cash was missing from the home. Gayle has never been heard from again. Robert reported her missing that evening.
Gayle's family stated they don't believe she actually wrote the goodbye note left in her home; the letter contained curse words, and they said Gayle was a devout Baptist and never cursed. Authorities searched the McCaffrey home three times and removed multiple items of evidence, including guns and ammunition, as well as sheets in the dryer that were stained with human blood.
Robert had had an extramarital affair shortly before Gayle's disappearance, something Gayle was aware of. He had told the woman he was separated from his wife. She ended the relationship with him after a few weeks, when she realized he was not, in fact, separated.
Gayle was trying to keep the marriage together and had booked a romantic getaway vacation for herself and her husband, but Robert kept trying to contact his former girlfriend and win her back. When he left his home on March 17, he went not to his address in Easley, but to Travelers Rest, South Carolina, to a bar where his former girlfriend was at. She tried to ignore him, and was able to lose him after he tried to follow her in his car once she left the bar. On the afternoon of March 18, Robert texted his girlfriend to say Gayle had left him.
In May 2012, police announced they believed Gayle had been murdered and that Robert was the prime suspect in her case. By this time, custody of the couple's children had been given to Gayle's sister.
In 2014, Robert was charged with obstruction of justice; investigators stated he'd lied to them about Gayle's disappearance on multiple occasions and refused to assist in the search for her. Among other inconsistencies in his story, the couple's ten-year-old daughter and other relatives who'd been in the home told police that the safe Robert claimed Gayle took from the residence did not exist.
In 2018, a probate court judge declared that Gayle had died and that her husband was responsible for her death, ensuring that her children rather than her husband would inherit her estate. Later in 2018, Robert was charged with Gayle's murder, but the grand jury declined to indict him and the murder charge was dropped. A photo of him is posted with this case summary.
At his trial for obstruction of justice in 2019, the prosecution argued that Robert had written Gayle's goodbye letter himself. His defense admitted he had not been a good husband, but said he knew nothing about her disappearance. He was convicted in March 2019 and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Gayle is a graduate of Southern Wesleyan University and worked as director of facilities finance at The Citadel, a military college, at the time of her disappearance. She was a longtime member of the First Baptist Church and sang and rang bells for the church choir, and her family described her as a devoted mother. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
- Charleston County Sheriff's Office
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 8, 2019; casefile added.