In the wake of the recent viral video showing a McDonald’s employee savagely beating a helpless woman while her toddler watches and even pointlessly tries to defend his mother by kicking the attacker. From what we know of the story so far, the altercation started at the McDonald’s restaurant located near the attack. This made me wonder just how many violent crimes originate at fast food joints.
As a former fast food employee myself, I can testify that you come across some odd things when dealing with the general public. I thought some of the things I saw while working at a local fast food restaurant were odd – like the man that collected change dropped at the drive thru to feed the stray cats living behind the building, or having to ban a woman that regularly purchased a small drink only to fill up an empty 2 liter bottle from the self-serve fountain machine, and I don’t even want to think about what another man did with the single child-sized cup full of mayo he purchased once a week. As odd as all of those things were to me, these experiences are nothing compared to these shocking fast food related crimes.
Not Your Typical Fast Food Scam
Perhaps one of the most notorious crimes to ever occur at a fast food restaurant was the events that unfolded on April 9, 2004 at a Mount Washington McDonald’s. An unknown caller, identifying themselves as “Officer Scott”, contacted the manager and informed her that he was investigating a purse theft. What happened next has since been a blip on the pop culture radar and a case-in-point example on what was discovered about human behavior during the Milgram Experiment.
The caller described the suspect as a girl that fit the profile of Louise Ogborn, a recently hired McDonald’s employee. In spite of the store manager, Donna Jean Summers, admitting that she had never known Ogborn to be dishonest, Summers pulled Ogborn into the store’s office upon the “officer’s” instruction. From there the caller ordered the manager to have the girl strip, one article of clothing at a time, which led to hours of mortifying abuses by Summers as directed by the caller.
What is even more shocking is Donna Jean Summers wasn’t the only manager to fall victim to the caller’s cruel hoax. As reports to the media began rolling in, it was discovered that the caller had convinced managers of at least seventy fast food restaurant chains to force their employees to strip and perform degrading acts. Some managers even went as far as to preform sexual acts on the employees accused of committing a crime, at the direction of the “officer” on the phone.
All of the managers involved with the unwarranted searching and degradation of their employees were subject to criminal prosecution. Some franchises even sued the managers involved for going against store policies and tarnishing their brand reputation. Authorities were eventually able to track down the suspected caller, David R. Stewart, after tracing a phone card purchased from a Panama City Walmart. Stewart was charged with impersonating a police officer, soliciting sodomy, soliciting sex abuse, and wrongful imprisonment, but was later acquitted on all charges.
Would You Like a Baby with that Taco?
Chalupas weren’t the only thing for sale at a Vancouver, WA taco bell. Police allege that a woman promptly dialed 911 after another woman approached her in the parking lot and offered to sell her a 3-month-old baby for $500. The woman, Heidi Lynn Knowles, was found staying with the child at an area hotel. The hotel owners claimed that they were shocked when they learned that Knowles was attempting to sell her child, as it seemed like she took good care of the baby. Knowles was charged with attempting to sell a child, a class C Felony.
Pizza is No Laughing Matter
When pranksters Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer decided to post several YouTube videos of their shenanigans at a Domino’s Pizza, they never expected the media frenzy that resulted. The videos, which have since been removed from YouTube, were described as showing Setzer putting cheese in his nose and sneezing on sandwiches being served to customers (yum), as a fellow co-worker filmed and narrated the events. When the videos of the two employee’s actions went viral, not only did the pair find themselves out of a job, but both jokers were arrested and charged with food tampering. The company president, Patrick Doyle, was appalled by both Setzer and Hammonds’s actions, and responded by making his own YouTube video. In spite of Domino’s attempt to save face and claims that none of the food featured in the videos was actually served to customers, the pizza shop was forced to close as a result of Setzer and Hammond’s prank. Both Setzer and Hammond were banned for life from working anywhere that serves food or beverages. Hammond, the cinematographer, received probation and Setzer took a plea deal in order to suspend his sentence by six months.
Paul Dennis Reid – The Fast Food Killer
After being fired from his dishwasher position at a Shoney’s, Reid allegedly went on a crime spree, targeting fast food restaurants in Tennessee. Between the months of February and April of 1997, Reid murdered a total of seven people, most of them teenagers, at three different fast food chains that included a Captain D’s, McDonald’s, and a Baskin-Robbins.
Reid was apprehended June 25, 1997, when he went to the home of the manager responsible for firing him from the Shoney’s restaurant. After Reid was asked to leave the man’s home, Reid pulled a gun and knife on his former boss, and attempted to kidnap him. Once the manager realized that it was Reid that had committed the string of murders in the area, the man made his way back to his home, and Reid fled the scene. After the ordeal, Reid called his former boss apologetically, and was convinced to return to the man’s home where police were waiting for him. Paul Dennis Reid was convicted on seven counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He died in 2013 at a Nashville hospital.
A Little Something on the Side
Police were called to a Burbank, CA area McDonald’s when they received reports of a homeless woman flagging down customers and offering to exchange sexual favors for chicken nuggets. One man told police that the woman, Khadijah Baseer, had opened his car door and offered to perform oral sex on him if he purchased her chicken nuggets. The man claims he denied her his special sauce. Employees reported that they frequently saw the woman hanging around the parking lot, but this was the first time they received complaints of Baseer offering customers her happy meal.