Beyond the Headlines

Two shockingly similar crimes

Posted: Jun 18, 2012 11:37 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 18, 2012 11:37 AM ET

Just six weeks ago Nova Scotians marked the 20th anniversary of the botched robbery in Sydney River that came to be known simply as the "McDonald's Murders".
 
Perhaps that's why that I keep thinking about that story as I read about the horrific events unfolding in Alberta.
 
Those of us of a certain generation still have vivid memories of waking up on the morning of May 7, 1992 to the news that three employees of the McDonald's had been killed, and another young female employee in hospital fighting for her life.
 
A fellow employee, 19 year old Derek Wood was one of three young men eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Wood used his kit bag to prop open the basement door so they could get back in later to rob the place. He left it there after they fled the bloody scene. It didn't take police long to arrest Wood, and then his accomplices.
 
In Edmonton, the man charged with killing three armoured car guards, and leaving another in critical condition, was also an employee of the company. 21 year old Travis Baumgartner was the fifth person on the crew delivering money to the University of Alberta.
 
Baumgartner was arrested Saturday night as he tried to cross the U.S. border, in his own truck, without a passport, carrying a bag with $330,000. He may as well have been wearing a t-shirt saying "I'm the guy wanted in the armoured car heist - arrest me."
 
In both these crimes, you have to wonder what were these young men thinking?

Did they really believe they were going to get away with it? Was the thrill of pulling off the big heist, of making the big score, so all encompassing that it blocked every other part of their brain that at some point must have be screaming "Don't Do It" ?
 
When they sat down to "plan" their crimes, did they think even for a minute, what their lives would be like if they did get caught - the years spent inside a tiny prison cell at a time in their lives when they should be building careers and raising families?
 
Did they give even a nanosecond of thought to the people they were so callously planning to kill, or for the life sentence of misery and heartache for the families and loved ones left behind?
 
Two robberies, 20 years apart but so shockingly similar.
 
It makes you shake your head in disbelief.
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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