Police have drained a quarry thought to hold the remains of a missing woman and her toddler – and say any evidence buried amid tonnes of excavated dirt “will be found”.
Renee MacRae and her three-year-old son Andrew disappeared on November 12 1976, and investigators have always believed that they were murdered.
Efforts to trace their bodies over the years have focused on many locations but officers returned to Leannach Quarry, by Culloden Moor on the outskirts of Inverness, earlier this year.
Their operation to drain the site and thoroughly sift through material began in May and police announced its conclusion yesterday.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
Though the effort is yet to yield any results, the force says a “substantial” amount of material taken from the disused quarry is still to be picked apart by forensic officers to establish whether any critical evidence is present.
And the detective leading the inquiry vowed that any remains, or other crucial evidence, would be discovered if they are in there.
Since work started 81 days ago more than 100,000 tonnes of material has been removed, with just 5% of it being taken for forensic searching thus far.
Locals have reported a number of vehicles being dumped in the quarry over the years, and detectives confirmed that 55 have been removed since excavation work began.
None are thought to be linked to the MacRae inquiry.
Detective Inspector Brian Geddes has been leading the investigation and yesterday said the operation had been “a significant undertaking”.
He said: “We have almost completed the excavation process but there remains a vast quantity of material that still requires to be sifted and thoroughly searched.
“This is likely to take a number of weeks to complete but we are confident that if the remains of Renee and Andrew, or any other key pieces of evidence, were disposed of in the quarry, we will find them.
“The process of backfilling sections of the quarry where excavation has taken place has commenced and again this will continue over a matter of weeks.
“I would like to thank everyone that has been involved in the operation to date, and the surrounding community for their patience while this has been ongoing.”
Det Insp Geddes reiterated an appeal for the public’s help, encouraging anybody with any information to contact the investigative team.
He added: “We remain determined to bring this matter to a successful conclusion and we continue to progress all relevant lines of inquiry.
“I would urge anyone who we have yet to speak to, and who has information, to please come forward and contact us.”