What happened to Renee and Andrew MacRae? Timeline of events revealed

An unsolved murder case in Scotland has finally been solved after almost half a century.

Last year, a pensioner was found guilty on charges of murdering Renee MacRae and her young son in 1976.

Renee MacRae, 36, disappeared with son Andrew after leaving their home near Inverness on November 12, 1976.


Renee MacRae, 36, disappeared with son Andrew after leaving their home near Inverness on November 12, 1976.Credit: PA:Press Association
William MacDowell was sentenced to life imprisonment


William MacDowell was sentenced to life imprisonmentPhoto credit: PA

William MacDowell, 80, was found guilty of killing Renee, 36, and Andrew, three, in November 1976 before attempting to thwart justice by dumping their bodies.

It’s been a long search for justice, but MacDowell will now die behind bars after being sentenced to life in prison in September 2022.

Police never found the body of the missing Inverness-shire woman and her young son. Officials are now asking the killer to tell them what he did to them so that they “may have the dignity they deserve.”

At its peak, the search involved questioning thousands of people and hundreds of police officers searching for the couple.

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A two-part BBC documentary about the couple’s deaths, entitled Murder Trial: The Disappearance of Renee and Andrew MacRae, will air on BBC Two on Monday August 28 at 9pm.

Timeline of the murders of Renee and Andrew MacRae

1972 – Renee began her affair with MacDowell, her husband Gordon MacRae’s company secretary.

Nov 1976 – Renee told her friends that she was meeting MacDowell as they had been planning to spend a weekend together in the days leading up to her disappearance.

Nov. 12, 1976 – Renee and three-year-old Andrew MacRae were last seen. They left Inverness for a ride in their blue BMW. Gordon Jr stayed in Inverness.

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Her car was later found ablaze at the road’s rest area in Dalmagarry, south of Inverness.

Summer 1977 – A nearby quarry in Dalmagarry was drained and searched after a young police officer reported an unusual smell at the site, but funds to continue the search ran out before a source could be found.

That same summer, Italian divers visiting Scotland to hunt the Loch Ness Monster joined the search near Culloden by diving in the abandoned and flooded Leanach Quarry.

Police praised the volunteers for their dangerous work, as the water was considered a fly-tipping hotspot by locals.

Nov 1977 – Police had spoken to thousands of people but reduced the deployment from 100 officers to a hand-picked team of 10 officers.

1979 – The case was dropped when the leads dried up.

2004 – Dalmagarry Quarry was re-excavated in 2004 removing 35,000 tonnes of earth and 2,000 trees at a cost of over £100,000.

2006 – Police filed a complaint and named a suspect, but prosecutors concluded there was insufficient evidence to take action.

2017 – The investigation has been reopened. Decades of files were transferred into three large logs for detectives to consult.

October 2018 – On Andrew’s 45th birthday, police again appealed for help and released a picture of the stroller his mother used to push him around in when he was a baby.

May 2019 – The Leanach Quarry has had an estimated 13 million liters of water removed and over 100,000 tons of soil, silt and other materials removed.

Investigators found 50 dumped vehicles on the site. Pieces of a parmesan were sent for forensic examination.

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Sept 2019 – MacDowell was arrested and appeared before Inverness Sheriff’s Court. He denied killing the mother and son.

October 2022 – MacDowell was convicted after a trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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Edmuns DeMars

Edmund DeMarche is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Edmund DeMarche joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing edmund@ustimespost.com.

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