Highlands & Islands

Renee and Andrew Macrae: Detectives continue review

Renee and Andrew MacRae
Image caption Renee and Andrew Macrae were headed for Perth when they vanished

Police say they are continuing a review of the case involving the disappearance and suspected murders of a woman and her young son more than 40 years ago.

Renee Macrae, 36, from Inverness, and her three-year-old son Andrew disappeared on 12 November 1976.

Mrs Macrae's car was found on fire in a lay-by on the A9 south of Inverness later that day.

A team of detectives is working to "identify new lines of inquiry and develop any existing lines of inquiry".

Last year, Police Scotland made a fresh search of a disused quarry near Inverness that had been examined in the days following the pair's disappearance.

To mark Andrew's 45th birthday in October, police released a photograph of him and an image of the Silver Cross pram owned by his mother. Officers appealed for sightings of the pram on and around 12 November 1976.

Then in November last year, police issued an appeal for information jointly with Mrs Macrae's sister Morag Govans.

'Re-interviewing people'

Det Insp Brian Geddes said this work started last year was continuing.

He said: "The circumstances around the disappearance of Renee and Andrew MacRae in 1976 are currently subject to an ongoing review by detectives from Police Scotland's major investigations team.

"The team is working to identify new lines of inquiry and develop any existing lines of inquiry where there is potential to progress them further.

"This involves reviewing existing information gathered during the investigation and re-interviewing people who have previously been spoken to as part of the inquiry."

Image caption Renee MacRae's BMW car was found on fire in a lay-by south of Inverness
Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Andrew Macrae and the pram his mother, Renee, owned

The detective added: "We are grateful to everyone who has assisted our inquiry so far and you can be assured that we thoroughly review every piece of information which is passed to us.

"Our priorities remain to bring a person, or persons, to justice and to locate the remains of Renee and Andrew in order to bring some form of closure to their family."

Making her appeal for information last year, Ms Govans said that more than four decades had not eased the pain of losing her sister and nephew.

She said: "Not a day goes past that both are not in my thoughts."

On the evening of her disappearance, Mrs MacRae, who was estranged from her husband Gordon, had set off for Perth with the youngest of her two sons, Andrew, to meet her lover Bill McDowell, Mr Macrae's married accountant. He told police they never met.


Renee and Andrew Macrae: Timeline

Image caption Police working on the case in the 1970s

17:00, 12 November 1976: After dropping off her eldest son, Gordon, at Mr Macrae's home, Mrs Macrae and Andrew leave Inverness for Perth.

22:00, 12 November 1976: Mrs MacRae's BMW car is found on fire by a passing bus driver about 12 miles (19km) south of Inverness. The car is parked on a loop road that was being used as a lay-by during the construction of the new A9 trunk road. Blood is found in the boot of the car. But there is no sign of the mother and son and police begin what would become one of the UK's longest missing persons investigations.

1976: In the fortnight following 12 November, more than 100 police officers and large numbers of volunteers search moorland around the site where the car was discovered. RAF Canberra aircraft make wider sweeps of the area.

1977: Divers search flooded Leanach Quarry, a known fly-tipping spot, near Inverness.

August 2004: Police return to Dalmagarry Quarry, which was searched at the time of the mother and son's disappearance. Northern Constabulary drafts in internationally-experienced forensic archaeologists and anthropologists to sift 35,000 tonnes of soil from the disused quarry, near the lay-by where Mrs Macrae's car was discovered. However, no sign of the mother and son is found. New tests are also carried out in a laboratory in Aberdeen on traces of blood found in the boot of the BMW.

2016: A report naming a suspect who may have killed the pair is sent by Northern Constabulary to prosecutors but they decide there is insufficient evidence to take action.

October 2018: For about a week, Police Scotland divers examine Leanach Quarry using a remotely-operated vehicle.

9 October: To mark Andrew's 45th birthday, police release a photograph of him and an image of the Silver Cross pram owned by his mother. Officers appeal for sightings of the pram on and around 12 November 1976.

12 November: Mrs Macrae's sister, Morag Govans makes an emotional appeal for information in the unsolved case.

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