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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Abbi Garton-Crosbie

Hunt for bodies of 1976 murder victims to focus on places linked to killer

THE hunt for the bodies of a mother and son murdered in the 1970s will focus on buildings linked to the man convicted of killing them, police have said.

William MacDowell was last year found guilty of the murders of Renee and Andrew MacRae, who have been missing since November 12 1976.

They had left their home in Inverness and the car owned by 36-year-old MacRae - with whom MacDowell was having an affair - was found later that day on fire in a lay-by near Dalmagarry.

Prior to MacDowell’s arrest, the case was Scotland’s longest-running open murder investigation.

MacDowell, who had been living in the north of England, was sentenced to life in prison last September but he died in February.

The bodies of MacRae and her three-year-old son have never been found.

Police have launched another appeal for information, saying a review is looking at properties linked to MacDowell or any places he may have met Renee during their relationship.

MacDowell and MacRae (above) had been having an affair for more than four years at the time of her disappearance.

80-year-old MacDowell did not give evidence during the court case at the High Court in Inverness in 2022. 

Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes – who helped bring MacDowell to justice – said: “Renee and Andrew’s family and friends waited decades for justice, which was served last year.

“However, their bodies have not been found and our investigation continues to explore all possible opportunities open to us to help answer that final, most important question in order to provide Renee and Andrew with the dignity they deserve.

“We continue to review the available evidence to identify any further areas of interest, while also considering whether there are any opportunities that modern technology could assist with in identifying possible deposition sites.

“This review includes considering any properties which may be linked to William MacDowell which he could have used, possibly a derelict building, an empty one or even an occupied one he had use of.”

Geddes said the timescale for any witnesses would be the early to mid-1970s, with detectives hoping someone may have spotted MacRae’s BMW in the area, alongside MacDowell’s company Volvo or family white Range Rover.

“We are also considering possible sites where they may have met during their relationship, possibly including the Blackfold area above Loch Ness, Inverfarigaig, and between Nairnside and Daviot,” he added.

The National: MacDowell's VolvoMacDowell's Volvo (Image: PA)

“This case will never be considered resolved until we find Renee and Andrew.

“We owe it to the family and friends to make every effort to recover Renee and Andrew’s bodies and I would urge anyone who may be able to assist, no matter how small you may feel your information is, to come forward.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, or email

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