Six years after a West Ashley woman vanished from her home, authorities have arrested the primary suspect in her presumed death — her husband, Bob McCaffrey.
Gayle McCaffrey was 36 years old on March 18, 2012, when her husband reported her missing to the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. Her remains have not been found despite several extensive searches that stretched from the area around the home and into the Upstate.
It was not clear whether a new discovery or other information led to McCaffrey's arrest shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday in Dare County, N.C., on a fugitive warrant.
Shortly after her sister went missing, Helen Banach of Summerville said the thought of her family’s ordeal stretching for years was unbearable. But the years came and went — many of them. Still, the family never lost faith, Banach said.
"We are hoping this might lead to some answers," she said. "Most importantly, we are hoping he might tell us where she is. We would love to bring her home and bury her."
From the beginning, details of Gayle McCaffrey's disappearance didn't add up, and her husband's version of how events unfolded was inconsistent.
He told deputies he’d last seen her at home at 10 p.m. March 17, 2012, according to investigators.
He then told them he left on a trip to Easley, and when he returned at about 6:30 a.m. March 18, his wife was gone, authorities said.
He also reported finding a wedding band and a typed note saying that his wife had left, possibly to be with another man.
Detectives pieced together forensic evidence and biographical information about the couple, leading them to think that Gayle McCaffrey's supposed farewell note was bogus, Sheriff Al Cannon said at the time.
Cannon publicly pointed the agency’s suspicions at the husband about two months after the wife went missing. It would be years before he was charged.
Family members never lost their suspicions.
The Gayle they knew wouldn't leave. She was a devout Baptist who loved her children and her hometown, and Bob McCaffrey wasn't cooperating with authorities.
For years, the sole concrete development in the case was his arrest on an obstruction of justice charge on June 21, 2014, "based on inconsistencies in a statement that he provided to detectives during this investigation," the Sheriff's Office said. That case was expected to be tried sometime this year.
McCaffrey's attorney, Chris Lizzi, said Tuesday his client had waived any challenge to extradition.
"It's my understanding that they have no new evidence," Lizzi said. "He has stood ready to come to South Carolina ... because he's been willing to get this behind him all along. We feel comfortable in our earlier position in this case that he's done nothing wrong."
Since Gayle McCaffrey's disappearance, several searches have taken place around the state but have turned up nothing.
As the case wore on, authorities turned over custody of the couple's children to other family members.
A probate judge earlier this year declared that Gayle McCaffrey had died and that her husband was responsible for her death, ensuring her children would inherit her possessions, Banach said.
His arrest isn’t a happy occasion, she said; their children are still without their parents.
Banach and another sister, Debbie Pearson, praised authorities for never filing the case away or forgetting about it.
"It has been six years of waiting," Pearson said. "We would all like closure."
Sheriff's Office officials are expected to address the arrest and any other developments in the case during a press conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Bob McCaffrey, 46, remains in custody in North Carolina and is expected to arrive at the Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston late Wednesday afternoon, said Capt. Roger Antonio, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.
He is expected to be formally charged with murder once he arrives.