Police have begun to excavate a Highland quarry in a bid to find the bodies of a mother and her son who disappeared almost 28 years ago.
Police will continue their search for Renee MacRae and her son
Renee MacRae, 36, and her three-year-old son Andrew have never been found after her car was found in an A9 lay-by 12 miles from Inverness in 1976.
Officers unveiled plans to dig up and search the nearby Dalmagarry Quarry for their remains on Monday.
In February, it was suggested the duo's remains may be found buried there.
Search for justice
Northern Constabulary Chief Constable Iain Latimer announced the plans to search the site near Tomatin at a press conference in Inverness.
Although a review in 1999 shed no new light on the case Mr Latimer decided to bring forward a cold case review of the incident which had not originally been due to take place until this October.
He said that following the most recent review and a report presented to him last month, he now had a "specific reason" to begin a detailed excavation and examination of the quarry which had been identified as a possible burial site for the MacRaes.
Over the next two weeks a team of diggers will clear trees on the site, which is now covered in forestry.
Once complete, teams of forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and forensic scientists will arrive on scene and begin a finger-tip search of the area.
Leading forensic experts Professor Sue Black, of Dundee University, and John Hunter, of Birmingham
University, will lead the search.
Speaking to the media, Mr Latimer said: "Whilst I cannot tell you why any other chief constable has not carried out a search like this, as chief constable, I feel it is my duty to the family of Renee to find her and her son, return them to her family and do everything in my power to bring the perpetrator, of what I feel is a vile and wicked crime, to justice.
"Since the disappearance of the mother and child,
forensic science has progressed enormously and in line with this the skill of the police officer and the tools they now have to solve crime has made vast changes to the way a detective can now carry out their work.
"I am confident if this operation is successful in
recovering the remains and it is shown that they died as a result of an unlawful act, then I will ensure the criminal inquiry is progressed with the aim of identifying, reporting and prosecuting the killer.
"Under my direction, this matter will go on until I feel we have exhausted all avenues of potential inquiry."
Work began at the quarry on Monday
Renee's ex-husband, Gordon MacRae, said: "I am
very pleased that matters are progressing and hopefully the police investigation will reach a successful
conclusion very shortly."
The disappearance of the MacRaes resulted in one of Scotland's largest missing persons inquiries.
Christina Catherine MacDonald, or MacRae, born in Inverness in February 1940, was known to her friends as Renee.
She separated from her husband in 1976 and lived with her two sons Gordon, born in 1968, and Andrew, who was born in 1973.
On the afternoon of 12 November, 1976, the mother-of-two was seen driving in her BMW with Andrew heading out of Inverness.
But later that night the vehicle was found burnt out in a lay-by on the A9, 12 miles south of the city, and both mother and son have not been seen since.