Murder of Tori Stafford
Victoria Elizabeth Marie Stafford|
July 15, 2000
April 8, 2009 (aged 8)|
Mount Forest, Ontario
|Cause of death||Multiple blunt force impacts|
|Body discovered||July 19, 2009|
|Known for||Murder victim|
Victoria Elizabeth Marie "Tori" Stafford (July 15, 2000 – April 8, 2009) was a Canadian girl who was abducted from Woodstock, Ontario on April 8, 2009, raped and murdered. Her body was found on July 19 in a wooded area in rural Ontario, positively identified in a news conference held on July 21. Her disappearance and the subsequent investigation and search were the subject of massive media coverage across Canada.
The police response to the situation as it developed and their failure to announce an Amber Alert has been criticized by the public, and has recently been the focus of a review of the Amber Alert system in Canada. The circumstances of her death were unknown to the public until a publication ban was lifted in December 2010.
Abduction, murder and investigation
At around 3:30 pm on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Stafford left Oliver Stephens Public School to go home, and was captured on security camera at 3:32 pm being led down Fyfe Avenue, Woodstock, by a woman. When she failed to return home, she was reported missing by her grandmother, Linda Winters, at 6:04 pm.
The case was featured in the April 25, 2009 episode of America's Most Wanted. The initial investigation was led by Oxford Community Police Service, but then turned into a joint operation with the Ontario Provincial Police.
On Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 9:00 am, police confirmed that remains found near Mount Forest two days earlier were those of Stafford. Stafford's body was naked from the waist down, wearing only a Hannah Montana T-shirt and a pair of butterfly earrings that she had borrowed from her mother. Her lower half was significantly decomposed. During an autopsy, it was determined that she had suffered a beating which caused lacerations to her liver and broken ribs and her eventual death was the result of repeated blows to the head with a claw hammer.
On May 20, 2009, police charged Michael Thomas Christopher Stephen Rafferty, 28, with first-degree murder and Terri-Lynne McClintic, 18, with being an accessory to murder (in addition to lesser charges) in the abduction and suspected murder of Stafford. Ontario Provincial Police indicated that Stafford's mother, Tara McDonald, was familiar with McClintic. McClintic assisted the police search for the remains of Stafford after her arrest, and her lawyer stated that her client "wants Tori's family to know she is trying hard to find her body".
On May 28, 2009, McClintic's charges were altered to a first-degree murder charge and an unlawful confinement charge, and it was announced that the accused would be tried separately.
McClintic was scheduled to make an appearance in court on April 30, 2010, but a publication ban was imposed by the judge on the events of the day. The publication ban was lifted on December 9, 2010, revealing that McClintic had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison. McClintic was held at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario.
On March 5, 2012, Rafferty's trial for the kidnapping, sexual assault, and first-degree murder of Stafford commenced. On May 11, 2012, at 9:18 pm ET, the jury found Rafferty guilty on all charges. Four days later, he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Claiming that the "judge's instructions to the jury were flawed," Rafferty appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal for Ontario on July 26, 2012. The 30-day deadline to appeal had passed by the time the papers were received, but this was attributed to his "inability to use the telephone to contact legal counsel,"  and an extension was requested. Rafferty's appeal papers appear to have been filed from Kingston Penitentiary. An extension to his appeal was granted.
On June 10, 2013, Rafferty appeared by video in a bid for his appeal. He was turned down for Legal Aid for his appeal process. On August 12, Rafferty had his court date postponed until September 10, 2013. The appeal was set in motion in December 2013, but as of January 20, 2016, no materials had been filed. On October 24, 2016, Rafferty appeared at his appeal hearing at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. The appeal was quickly dismissed the same day.
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- "Tori Stafford's mother knew 1 of 2 suspects arrested in her killing". CBC. May 20, 2009.
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- "1st-degree murder charge laid against McClintic in Victoria Stafford killing Accused to be tried separately; Rafferty's lawyer hints at deal for McClintic". CBC News. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2009-05-28.
- Daubs, Katie (May 1, 2010). "NDP justice critic slams publication ban on Tori Stafford case". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
- "Ban lifted: Woman pleaded guilty to Stafford's murder". CTV. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
- Flanagan, Ryan (2017-09-26). "Life in prison: Behind the barbed wire at Grand Valley Institution". CTV News. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
- "Michael Rafferty appealing conviction in Tori Stafford murder case". National Post. 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Michael Rafferty appeals conviction in Tori Stafford murder". The Star. 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Michael Rafferty appeals Tori Stafford murder conviction". CBC News. 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- Richmond, Randy (January 20, 2016). "Child killer Michael Rafferty's slow-mo appeal raises eyebrows". The London Free Press.
- Richmond, Randy (October 24, 2016). "Parents of slain Woodstock girl relieved after appeal by killer dismissed". The London Free Press.
|Wikinews has related news:|
- Richmond, Randy. "Terry-Lynne McClintic pleads guilty to killing Tori Stafford". The Beacon Herald. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- Victoria Stafford at Find a Grave