On a cold and rainy day in January 2008 the bodies of Kadie Major and her 9-month-old daughter River were found by CSX railroad workers near tracks in the Oakley community of Berkeley County. Days later, investigators concluded the two were hit by a train during an apparent suicide.
Once that conclusion was made, the incident was allowed to become a regrettable afterthought in another senseless tragedy. But during the 10 years since, a smoldering persistence from family members has finally caught fire.
The case now has the attention of a new sheriff and state law enforcement. The assembled task force is now sorting through possible leads while thickening a potential plot line that caught the attention of a network news magazine show.
“I was approached by the family of Kadie Major and they asked us to take a look at the case there was a number of unanswered questions surrounding the death of Kadie and River Major,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis.
“The facts surrounding the case at that time led the investigators and the coroner’s office to believe that it was a suicide,” he said.
On Sept. 6 Berkeley County Sheriff, Duane Lewis announced the case has been reopened as a death investigation.
“It was initially believed that Kadie was suicidal and had some psychological issues, I can tell you that is not the case,” Lewis said at Thursday’s announcement.
The fresh effort will include, cold case detectives, new advances in forensics from agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) as well accident and scene reconstruction techniques from the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
The Sheriff said the case is unusual but added they have interviewed several witnesses who have provided significant information having to do with the timeline of events leading up to the deaths—now, even the direction of the train has changed.
“Kadie was stuck by a northbound and not a southbound train,” Lewis said.
Sheriff Lewis mentioned he also has a lot of information he can’t release because it would jeopardize the case but he did name one person of interest — Kadie’s then husband and River’s father, Aaron Major.
The sheriff said they have talked to Aaron Major — he was also asked if Major was a person of interest in the case.
“Right now, he is,” Lewis said. “And again he is not the only person of interest, we are casting a wide net to ask people to come forward; persons of interest can be someone who we want to talk to or need to talk to.”
For a decade, Kadie’s mother, Vicky Hall has been working to try and get her daughter and granddaughter’s case reopened. Sheriff Lewis called the family’s work, “unrelenting.”
“The last 10 years have been very difficult for everyone in my family, we miss them; our hearts are wrenching for them,” said Hall at the news conference in Berkeley County.
Hall said she has not given up looking for answers since that cold rainy day on Jan. 17, 2008. She said investigators and the coroner determined it was suicide too early, just one day after the funeral.
She has worked with private investigators for years before the case was reopened. She also reached out to producers of ’48 Hours,’ the news magazine show on CBS.
Cameras and crew from the show are telling her story and were in Moncks Corner for the announcement on Thursday.
“I believe that it is not a case of suicide, I know that in my heart absolutely,’ Hall said. “And I believe this is a case of murder."
The reopened case has been ongoing for a few months and Hall promised no stone will go unturned.
Lewis said it is still too early to call the case something other than a death investigation but he said he is in agreement with Hall, saying an extensive investigation is ahead.
“We’re looking at everything, we all have an open mind about this situation and this case and where it takes us,” Lewis said. “There is still some work to do but we will look at everything and they are looking at everything.”
The task force has set up a hotline if anyone in the Oakley Road area of Berkeley County can offer any new information in the case, the number is 843-719-7700.