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Daily Record
Daily Record
David Love

Scots cop who helped catch Renee MacRae killer vows to find out where bodies of victims are buried

The detective who snared convicted double murderer Bill MacDowell has vowed to confront him behind bars to find out where he buried his victims.

The 81-year-old will die in jail after being handed a life sentence last week for killing his lover Renee MacRae, 36, and their three-year-old son, Andrew.

Their bodies have never been found, causing anguish for the MacRae family after the double killing in November 1976.

Detective Inspector Brian Geddes at Leanach Quarry near Inverness where police are looking for the bodies of Renee Macrae and her son Andrew who have been missing since 1976....pic Peter Jolly (Peter Jolly)

But a week on from being sentenced at the High Court in Inverness, MacDowell has remained silent on where he disposed of his victims.

As he launched an appeal against his conviction yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes, who led the complex investigation into the murders, confirmed yesterday he would be arranging a meeting in jail with MacDowell to try to find out the location of Renee and Andrew’s final resting place.

He said: “I will be in touch with the prison authorities and will take advice from others, including a criminal psychologist, before engaging with MacDowell directly.”

Responding to MacDowell’s appeal, DCI Geddes added: “We are confident in our case and the conviction. He is perfectly entitled to appeal and we have to let the due process of law take place now.”

It was revealed yesterday that MacDowell has instructed his lawyer Murray McAra KC to appeal against his conviction.

Renee MacRae disappeared with her son Andrew in 1976 (PA)

Mr McAra said: “We have marked an appeal. We have given notice of intention to appeal.”

MacDowell had 14 days to state his intention to appeal after being found guilty. His appeal will now go to a senior judge to decide if it can go ahead. If it is successful, a hearing will be arranged and a panel of judges will hear the debate from defence and prosecution on points of law.

During the trial, the court heard MacDowell, of Penrith, Cumbria, killed or abducted his lover Renee and their son in a layby on the A9 near Dalmagarry, south of Inverness, on November 12, 1976.

MacDowell’s boss at a local construction firm, Gordon MacRae, had been married to Renee but the couple were estranged. Andrew and Renee’s disappearance was one of the longest unsolved murder cases in Scots criminal history.

A huge police investigation was launched after their disappearance, with road blocks set up on the busy road in an attempt to find as many witnesses as possible. But despite this, and investigations in 1986, 2004 and 2018, their remains have never been found.

Operation Abermule, the latest investigation, was set up to find the murderer and to discover the resting place of the pair’s bodies almost 46 years after the crime. So far, it has achieved only one of its aims – with MacDowell convicted of the two murders.

But DCI Geddes said he would “remain optimistic” that the bodies could still be found.

He said: “We set out with that as our objective and we, the organisation, whoever comes after me, will not give up on that until there is no longer any hope.

“And there is hope at the moment, so we’ll remain optimistic.”

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