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Renee MacRae: Man, 77, charged with murder after mum and son disappeared 43 years ago

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A man has been charged with murdering a woman and her three-year-old son who disappeared 43 years ago.

Renee MacRae, 36, from Inverness, disappeared with three-year-old Andrew in November 1976, becoming Britain’s longest-running missing persons case.

William MacDowell, 77, from Penrith, Cumbria, appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court on Wednesday charged with murdering the mother and son. 

He was also charged with two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Police officers at the emptied quarry as the search for clues continues. (PA)

MacDowell made no plea at the brief hearing, was granted bail and is expected to appear in court at a later date.

Ms MacRae was last seen driving out of Inverness with her three-year-old son on November 12.

The mother-of-two’s BMW was found burned out in a lay-by on the A9 near Dalmagarry, 12 miles south of the city. The pair were not seen again.

The force said a forensic search of Leanach Quarry, east of of Inverness, as part of the investigation is continuing and the bodies of the Ms MacRae and the toddler have not been recovered.

More than 100,000 tonnes of earth, silt and other material has been removed since work started in May.

Detective Inspector Brian Geddes said: “This is a significant development in an investigation which started when Renee and Andrew disappeared in November 1976.

“Their disappearance has had an unimaginable impact on the lives of Renee and Andrew’s family and friends for several decades.

“This has also been felt keenly in Inverness but also across Scotland and beyond.”

He added: “Police officers and staff from across the country, as well as a number of partner agencies and contractors, have put an enormous amount of work into this investigation from 1976 to the present day, allowing us to reach this point.

“The remains of Renee and Andrew have not been recovered, however, the searching of a large quantity of material removed from Leanach Quarry continues.

“I would like to thank everyone who has assisted the investigation, whether during our recent inquiries or at any time since 1976.”

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