Murder of Tori Stafford
Victoria Elizabeth Marie Stafford
July 15, 2000
|Died||April 8, 2009 (aged 8)|
|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, tortured 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.
In October 2018, McClintic was controversially moved to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Saskatchewan, run by the Correctional Service of Canada. She was granted the move as an Aboriginal, but whether she is actually Aboriginal has not been confirmed and has been disputed by a family member. The lodge, a minimum/medium-security prison is unfenced, but monitored 24 hours a day with video cameras. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced increased scrutiny for acknowledging he did not have the right to return McClintic to a maximum security prison, since that falls with commissioner of Correctional Services.  The CPC MP Candice Bergen introduced a motion in Parliament to condemn and overturn the decision; the motion generated a day's acrimonious debate and was defeated 200–82, with all Liberal MPs voting against it. Under increasing public pressure, the Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale issued an order for Correctional Service Canada to review the decision and the general policy. On November 7, Goodale announced McClintic would be returned to a federal prison, and regulations would be made stricter for transferring long-term prisoners to healing lodges. She was transferred to the multi-level Edmonton Institution for Women.
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- "Michael Rafferty appealing conviction in Tori Stafford murder case". National Post. 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
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- Richmond, Randy (January 20, 2016). "Child killer Michael Rafferty's slow-mo appeal raises eyebrows". The London Free Press.
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- Harris, Kathleen (2018-10-03). "After heated debate, hurled insults, Tory motion to overturn child-killer's transfer to healing lodge defeated". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2018-10-04. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
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- Richmond, Randy (2018-11-08). "After public outcry, Liberals to return child killer McClintic to prison and toughen transfer rules". National Post. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
- Harris, Kathleen (2018-11-08). "Child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic transferred from healing lodge to Edmonton prison". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
|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