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Daily Record
Daily Record
Dan Barker, PA & Jon Brady

Police urge killer of Renee MacRae and toddler son to reveal location of bodies

The police officer who snared the killer of Renee and Andrew MacRae after almost 46 years has urged him to reveal where he disposed of their bodies.

Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes was speaking after William MacDowell, 80, was found guilty of murdering Renee, with whom he had been having an affair, and their lovechild Andrew MacRae in 1976. Maree, 36, and three-year-old Andrew had last been seen on November 12 that year heading south on the A9 near Inverness.

Renee's BMW was later discovered on fire in a layby near Dalmagarry, containing a rug stained with blood matching Renee's blood type. The pair's bodies have never been found and the case had, until today, been the UK's longest running missing person's investigation.

MacDowell, who was arrested in November 2019, had denied murdering the pair in the Highlands on November 12 1976, lodging special defences of incrimination and alibi. But a jury at the High Court in Inverness found the Penrith man guilty of killing the pair and disposing of their bodies and belongings.

DCI Geddes said: "Renee and Andrew's family and friends have waited decades for justice and I hope that the outcome in court today can provide some form of closure for them. They have carried themselves with absolute dignity throughout and they are very much in my thoughts today.

"The murders of Renee and Andrew have had a significant impact on the people of Inverness and beyond for decades now. But it's fitting to know that despite the passage of time, justice has finally been served."

The bodies of Renee and Andrew MacRae have never been found (Police Scotland/PA Wire)

The Major Investigations Team cop, who was appointed to re-open the cold case in 2018, made a direct appeal to MacDowell to give up the location of Renee and Andrew's bodies so they can be "provided with the dignity they deserve". Operation Abermule, the most recent and final re-investigation into the MacRae killings, "remains open", he said.

DCI Geddes added: "We will be looking to anyone who has information about Renee and Andrew's remains and the whereabouts of them. We will be discussing and taking action in terms of William McDowell and whether he is willing to engage with us to give us the answers that we and more importantly the family want and deserve."

The top cop has admitted that detectives are no closer to finding Renee and Andrew despite wielding a substantial archive of statements and materials "enhanced" using modern forensic techniques and gear - and added that it had been a "real worry" that MacDowell would die before justice was done. The killer is likely to die in jail due to his declining health, described by his wife as a "walking dead man" during the trial.

MacDowell was finally snared after a new investigation was opened in 2018, following the original investigation in 1976 and a cold case review in 2004. Original witnesses who are still alive were recorded reading back their original statements in the hope that they would recall previously unknown details.

DCI Geddes said: "There is no doubt that the team we had from 2018 onwards uncovered evidence that hadn't been focused on before. I'm sure and can sympathise with lots of frustrations around why it's taken this long but effectively but we can just deal with the here and now.

"It was really challenging for the team to work out what we had and what we were missing. No criticism on officers involved in 1976 - it would be difficult to know what we know now. There was a real worry that we would never get to this point so we are absolutely delighted that we have."

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