HMP Glenochil was established in 1966. For a time, it was a young offenders’ jail but in 2003 reverted to being an adult male prison only.

It has housed some high profile offenders, including William McDowell, who was convicted of the murder of Renee and Andrew MacRae who disappeared in 1976.

The disappearance of the MacRaes haunted Inverness for more than four decades. The pair had gone missing on Friday, November 12, 1976 at a lay-by on the A9 near Dalmagarry Quarry, some 14 miles south of the Highland capital. Renee had said she was going to visit her sister Morag Govens in Kilmarnock, but she never appeared. A police hunt got underway after they were reported missing, but nothing of the MacRaes was found.

It later transpired her lover William McDowell, known as Bill, the company secretary for MacRae & Company in Inverness, had arranged to meet her. He had told her in the previous weeks that he was going to leave his wife Rosemary so they could begin a new life in Shetland. After Gordon MacRae, Renee’s estranged husband, had been eliminated from police inquiries, attention turned to McDowell.

Evidence in the case was sparse. Renee’s burned out BMW yielded no clue as to what had happened to the pair, but police were convinced McDowell was behind it. It was not until Leanach Quarry near Culloden was searched in 2019, and the case reviewed, that McDowell was arrested at his Penrith home. It was also thanks to modern forensic techniques that blood was discovered on the boot latch of the BMW, which had been kept in storage for 40 years.

McDowell’s trial took place in September 2022 at the High Court in Inverness, where he pleaded not guilty to murdering 36-year-old Renee and her three-year-old son Andrew, who, it transpired, was in fact McDowell’s son.

By a majority verdict , the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 30 years, meaning he would die in prison. The judge Iain Armstrong, Lord Armstrong, told him the murders had been premediated and were ‘executions.’

McDowell was transferred from HMP Porterfield in Inverness to HMP Glenochil on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, due to his complex medical needs. He died at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert in February 2023, having served less than six months of his life sentence. He was 81 years old.

The whereabouts of the remains of Renee and Andrew are still not known, and the search for them continues.