More than 110 volunteers and emergency personnel combed through several hundred yards of brush, woods and ponds for hours Friday in West Ashley, searching for any clue that might lead them closer to answering a question that's lingered for almost two years: What happened to Gayle McCaffrey?
To offer tips
Authorities are asking anyone who may have information in this case to contact the Charleston County Sheriff's Office at 843-202-1700 or Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111.
Investigators came up empty again this time, but the case is far from being cold, according to authorities.
Friday's search is one of at least five that authorities have conducted for clues in connection to the 2012 disappearance of the mother of two. She was 36 years old at the time of her disappearance.
The search was not sparked by any new clues, according to sheriff's Maj. Eric Watson. Investigators, however, have spent the last few months re-evaluating the case.
"Someone in the group had a concern about a particular area in terms of the searches we had done before," said Sheriff Al Cannon. "We thought perhaps it was something we needed to research."
Investigators retraced their footsteps in hopes of finding something new in the area of S.C. Highway 61 near Bees Ferry Road Friday with 10 groups of local emergency responders and other volunteers searching the area on foot and by air in the helicopter.
It's not far from where Gayle McCaffrey was living with her children and her husband, Robert, who authorities have identified as a suspect in the case.
Investigators have said they believe foul play is at work and that Robert McCaffrey is involved in her disappearance.
He has never been charged and has only spoken to investigators once, according to authorities.
Investigators have not talked with him since his first interview, despite several requests, according to Watson.
"We've sent letters to his attorney more than once," Watson said. "We even offered him to take a polygraph test."
Chris Lizzi, Robert McCaffrey's attorney, has previously told The Post and Courier that he's offered his client for questioning in the past.
Lizzi did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Robert McCaffrey, a 42-year-old carpenter, comes and goes from the Lowcountry and the Upstate, where he has family.
McCaffrey reported his wife missing March 18, 2012. He told authorities he last saw her the night before at 10 p.m. before he traveled to Easley. When he returned home the next day, she was gone.
Cannon has previously said that authorities believe the farewell note she supposedly left was "bogus." Authorities had found the note along with Gayle McCaffrey's purse, wedding ring and her cellphone at her home.
While Robert McCaffrey was out the night of March 17, after he said he left his wife at home, he was pulled over in the Upstate after a patrol officer spotted his Dodge Ram speeding through Travelers Rest. McCaffrey had a handgun in his vehicle, according to authorities. He owned the firearm, and the officer determined that no crimes beyond the traffic violation were committed and they cited him for speeding.
Authorities said they plan to return and search the Travelers Rest area as well to look for clues.
"One of the problems in the case is that you have a lot of potential area in terms of from here to Travelers Rest and anywhere in between," Cannon said. "So we've sought to search those areas we felt were most likely. But the possibilities are obviously very many as to where she might be located."
Despite the challenges, Cannon said he's still confident this case will be resolved.
"We've had a lot of folks who have invested a great deal of time in this case," Cannon said. "We've had a lot of interaction with the family and just feel an obligation to bring some closure to this."
In October, a judge granted permanent custody of the McCaffrey's two children to one of Gayle McCaffrey's sisters, Debbie Pearson. The kids had been staying with her since their mother had gone missing. Pearson hopes one day her family will get the answers they've been waiting for.
"Our family is grateful that the police continue searching for Gayle even though it has been over two years," said Pearson. "We would like to have closure."
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.