It remains one of the most painful chapters in the history of the Sudbury Police Service.

Constable Joe MacDonald was beaten, pistol whipped and shot to death on October 7, 1993. He was 29-years-old.

"He was murdered in cold blood on the side of the road," said Alex McCauley, former Greater Sudbury Police chief.

McCauley was an inspector with the force at the time at the time of MacDonald's murder.

"When he had an opportunity to free his weapon and fire he did. He was definitely outgunned at the time. He ran out of ammunition and he was lying on the ground helpless. He had no way to defend himself and he was summarily executed with three shots to the head," McCauley said.

News of the brutal killing and arrest of two men - Clinton Suzack and Peter Pennett - rocked the police force and the city.

MacDonald was married with two young daughters.

"Joe was definitely robbed of seeing the girls grow up because Joe loved being with kids," said Randy Stevens, who grew up with MacDonald.


On the day of MacDonald's funeral, local citizens and officers from across North America lined the streets in downtown Sudbury.

Richard Zanibbi was police chief at the time.

"For the whole community it was quite devastating, because it was out of the ordinary, thank goodness, but it was so brutal and so without thought it was hard for people to digest and to accept,” he said.

MacDonald's murder did lead to some positive changes within policing.

The radios officers use were improved and forces across the province transitioned to higher caliber pistols.

"We do have semi-automatic weapons now, so that in prolonged battles, ones that last longer than a single blow and we are able to stay in there for the long haul," said Chief Paul Pedersen, Greater Sudbury Police Service chief.

Two years after the killing, Suzack and Pennett were sentenced to life without parole for 25 years.

The judge recommended it be served in maximum security, but that didn't happen."The judge did make that ruling, but Corrections Canada has their own rulings they operate under, and that just wasn’t going to happen (with) the cascading system that is in place then and is currently in place," explained McCauley.

With time served before sentencing, the men are now eligible to apply for parole; another chapter in this story that angers many.

"They took a life therefore they should be in jail for life. It’s pretty cut and dry where I am concerned," said Stevens.

"This is where in this country, we get frustrated with the word 'life sentence', because a life sentence for Joe was forever, life sentence for Joe's family is forever," said Pederson.

"It was an assassination," said Zanibbi.

"His circumstances would have allowed them to escape temporarily. There was no reason for it, however they chose to kill him.

"These individuals do not deserve to have any type of parole. They are serving life sentences and life sentences for a heinous crime," said McCauley.

"As far as I am concerned that should be the end of the story."

During a parole board hearing on September 13 at the Beavercreek Institution in Gravenhurst, Peter Pennett sought an escorted temporary absence.

In the end, the parole board denied Pennett's request; citing the fact they feel he continues to minimize and deflect his role in MacDonald's murder.