Renee McBryde was researching a high school project when she discovered her father was a cold-blooded killer.
Until the age of six, McBryde was told her father was “working away” at the Cottee’s Cordial factory. Her father, double-murderer Michael Caldwell, called her every week from “Cottee’s” to check in.
During one of these phone calls, Caldwell told his six-year-old daughter he wasn’t actually working remotely, he was serving time in jail for a serious crime.
In a follow up phone call, Caldwell admitted to little Renee that he had killed two men.
McBryde’s mother then told the young girl her father had acted in self defense, that he was a “crusader”, and that she should never tell anyone about her father’s past.
“My mother told me no one would ever accept it, no one would want to be my friend,” McBryde said in an interview with 60 Minutes.
“She said I had his blood running through my veins. I understood why but it was tough because I felt like from that moment on, I couldn’t be myself.
“I had no idea about the gravity of what that secret was going to mean going forward, and how it would shape my identity.”
But McBryde would not discover the full extent of her father's crime for another decade. And it was a discovery she held close to her, keeping it secret, for many years.
When tasked with researching a crime for a high school assignment, McBryde decided to look into her father's past.
What she found was horrifying.
On a computer at the NSW State Library McBryde discovered her dad was not a crusader, he was not acting in self-defense, he had killed two innocent men in cold blood.
“Both men were found bound and gagged, and appeared to have engaged in sex shortly before their murders,” McBryde read in a newspaper report that day.