Sydney River McDonald's murders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sydney River McDonald's murders
Back of the restaurant on May 7, 1992, shortly after the discovery of the murders.
Location Sydney River, Nova Scotia, Canada
Coordinates 46.107623,-60.224056
Date Thursday, May 7, 1992
12:50 am ADT (UTC-03:00)
Attack type
Deaths 3
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators Freeman 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. It was committed by a trio of friends who allegedly 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 claim they had not planned on using any violence in the break and enter; it was 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 and Darren Muise wore a Halloween mask. They murdered the three with a .22 caliber pistol, several knives, and a shovel handle. Expecting to find over $200,000 in the restaurant's safe, the three made off with just $2,017.[1]



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


  • Arlene MacNeil, 20 (permanently disabled)

Community response[edit]

The murders put Sydney into the unwanted spotlight as this became a news story worldwide. The location of the restaurant was in the shopping district of Sydney River on Kings Rd. The restaurant reopened 2 weeks later but had a significant loss of customers. This led to the store being demolished in 2000, 8 years after the crime had occurred, and a new, more modern one was constructed just a few minutes down the road alongside an intersection, where it still stands today. The location of the former McDonald's is an empty lot.

Trial and sentence[edit]

Freeman Daniel MacNeil was sentenced to 25 years before parole eligibility and is now in a maximum-security prison in Renous, New Brunswick. Darren Muise received 20 years before parole eligibility. Derek 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. Wood 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 Muise's case because of confidentiality limitations.


Darren Muise is said to have invested an inheritance heavily in the tech industry during the mid to late 1990s, generating millions of dollars in profits from stocks such as BlackBerry maker Research in Motion. Muise had planned to work with computers before his 1992 arrest, declaring them to be the "way of the future".[2]

Parole dispositions[edit]

On March 29, 2011, a National Parole Board announced their decision to grant Darren Muise day parole. The decision 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." Muise received full parole on November 22, 2012.[3]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Twenty years of heartache". The Chronicle Herald. May 7, 2012. Retrieved 2015-01-15. 
  2. ^ Jessome, Phonse Murder at McDonald's: The Killers Next Door. Halifax: Nimbus, 1994. ISBN 1-55109-093-7.
  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.