Sydney River McDonald's murders

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Sydney River McDonald's murders
Sydney River NS McDonald's Killings.jpg
Back of the restaurant on May 7, 1992, shortly after the discovery of the murders.
LocationSydney River, Nova Scotia, Canada
DateThursday, May 7, 1992
12:50 am ADT (UTC-03:00)
Attack type
PerpetratorsFreeman Daniel MacNeil
Darren Muise
Derek Wood

The Sydney River McDonald's murders occurred on May 7, 1992, at the McDonald's restaurant in Sydney River, Nova Scotia, Canada. They were committed by a trio of friends who only intended to rob the restaurant, but ended up murdering three people and permanently disabling a fourth. It was one of the highest-profile murder cases in Canada at the time.

Robbery and murders[edit]

Derek Wood, 18, an employee of the restaurant along with two friends, Freeman Daniel MacNeil, 23, and Darren Muise, 18, broke into the restaurant after closing, planning to rob the establishment. They shot, stabbed, and beat three employees to death and left a fourth to die after shooting her in the neck.

The killers claimed they had not planned on using any violence in the break and enter; it was meant to be quick and easy money. The three inched their way into the restaurant via a basement door Wood had left ajar earlier in the evening with his knapsack which he left at the crime scene. Darren Muise wore a Halloween mask. They murdered their victims with a .22 caliber pistol, several knives, and a shovel handle. Expecting to find over $200,000 in the restaurant's safe, they made off with just $2,017.[1]



  • Jimmy Fagan, 27
  • Donna Warren, 22
  • Neil Burroughs Jr., 29


  • Arlene MacNeil, 20 (permanently disabled, died 2018)[2]

Community response[edit]

The murders put Sydney into the spotlight as this became a news story worldwide. The restaurant was in the shopping district of Sydney River on Kings Road. It reopened two weeks later with a significant reduction in patronage. This led to its demolition in 2000. A new McDonald's was constructed a few minutes down the road at an intersection. The location of the former McDonald's is currently an empty lot.[citation needed]

Trial and sentence[edit]

MacNeil was sentenced to 25 years before parole eligibility and is now in a maximum-security prison in Renous, New Brunswick. Muise received 20 years before parole eligibility. Wood was given two terms of life imprisonment for first degree murder and attempted murder, as well as two ten-year terms for unlawful confinement and the armed robbery. He will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years. In March 2007, it was reported that Muise was working outside his minimum-security prison facility in Laval, Quebec. A spokeswoman with Correctional Service of Canada was unable to comment on his case because of confidentiality limitations.

Parole dispositions[edit]

On March 29, 2011, a National Parole Board announced their decision to grant Muise day parole. A member stated: "Given the significant and real progress you have made over the years, your case management team is of the opinion that the probability that you commit a crime after your release is low." He received full parole on November 22, 2012.[3]

On April 8, 2015, the National Parole Board rejected an application for day parole by Wood.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Twenty years of heartache". The Chronicle Herald. May 7, 2012. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
  2. ^ "Lone survivor of Sydney River McDonald’s murders has died", from The Guardian
  3. ^ "N.S. McDonald's killer granted full parole". CBC News. November 29, 2012. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
  4. ^ "Derek Wood, convicted in McDonald's murders, denied day parole". CBC News. April 8, 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-22.