Town remembers constable

Robert Bailey

MBR

LINCOLNVILLE — Late one summer night, frantic calls went out across police radios. Constable Robert Bailey was missing, kidnapped after a traffic stop near Greenwood Street.

That was a year ago, and on Wednesday about 60 of Bailey's friends and acquaintances gathered at the town's public safety building that is now named in his honor.

Over hot dogs, chips and soda, they marked the one-year anniversary of his shooting death — a death that changed some people's lives. It's a memory that some have trouble shaking.

"The shock is gone. We've accepted the reality of his loss," Mayor Tyrone Aiken said. "However, it's still tough to rebuild."

Bailey's partner, former Lincolnville Sgt. Richie Hill, left the town about six weeks after Bailey's death for a spot at the Hanahan Police Department. His decision to leave was, in part, to put the horrible memory behind him, he said.

Hill still remembers the first traffic stop he made after Bailey's death. It was in Hanahan, late at night; a woman with a tag light out. He remembers the anxiety, the blood rushing. "Was this woman capable of similar misdeeds?" he thought.

"It's permanently scarred me. It gave me a different outlook on law enforcement," Hill said. "I'll never trust people like I did before."

Town Councilwoman Dot Bailey, who is not related, thinks only of the good that was in the 67-year-old constable who patrolled Lincolnville as a volunteer.

She remembers the day that someone stole her father's antique rifles.

Bailey not only searched through the woods behind her home, found one of the guns buried in the dirt and returned it, but he took it home and polished it up so it looked even better than before it disappeared, she said.

Robert Bailey disappeared May 14, 2007. After a five-day search by hundreds of law enforcement authorities, his bullet-riddled body was found buried a few miles off Interstate 26 in Orangeburg County.

Several people were arrested and face charges related to his disappearance and death.

Robert Bailey never made it home safely to his family, but some people say his memory will live for a long time in this little town. Council has proclaimed the week of his death as Robert "Bob" Bailey Week.

"We will try to keep his memory alive as long as we are here," Dot Bailey said.