Murder Of Child Leaves Community Traumatized (part 2)
While people elsewhere are worried about the economic recession, parents in Woodstock are most concerned about the safety of their children. Since the after school abduction and reported murder of 8 year old Tori Stafford there is a deep insecurity among parents. With conflicting news reports and no real answers about the motive of this crime, their faith in the existing system to protect children has been shaken.
Many here are concerned about claims in the media that Tori was taken for sexual purposes, and that it was a random crime.
“Although police officially won’t comment upon the couple’s alleged motive, The Globe and Mail has learned that they believe the crime was sexual in nature.” The Globe and Mail
Others don’t believe it was random and doubt that the motive was sexual. One mother was willing to comment on the matter but said she would not give her name because the community has become so polarized. She points out that Oxford Community Police have stated this was not a random abduction. She further notes “there are no criminal charges of a sexual nature against either Michael Rafferty, or co-accused Terry-Lynne McClintic.”
Another mother says “either way, how can we know our children will be safe?” She too prefers to remain anonymous but points to after school child release policy as an area of concern. The Thames Valley School Board has reviewed the release policy in place at Oliver Stephens School where Tori Stafford attended; stating that it was appropriately followed and no changes are necessary.
The young mother also stated her strong disapproval of the way the matter has been handled by the local police force. She along with many others in Woodstock and elsewhere are angry that an Amber Alert was not issued immediately. In response Oxford Community Police chief Ron Fraser stated that an Alert was not issued because the case did not meet the requirements of an Amber Alert.
Specifically, there was no knowledge of either an abductor or vehicle used to take Victoria, according to Fraser there simply was nothing to release. A grassroots movement has since risen to have Amber Alert policy revised. The changes would result in an alert being triggered when notification is received by police that a child is missing and felt to be in danger, even if there is no knowledge on an abductor.
On Apr 09, the day after Tori’s disappearance, a surveillance video from the nearby secondary school was found showing Tori walking with a then unidentified woman in a puffy white coat. The woman is now known to be Terry-Lynne McClintic. The Oxford Community Police however continued to treat Tori’s disappearance as a missing person’s case.
On Apr 17 with an increasingly frustrated and angry public the Ontario Provincial Police took over management of the case. It was only then that Victoria’s disappearance was declared an abduction.
While there was a glimmer of hope in Woodstock as the Ontario Provincial Police took charge of the investigation, further revelations have only caused public frustration with the local Oxford Community Police Service to build.
McClintic was reportedly taken into custody on Apr 12 for “un-related matters” carrying her white puffy coat with her as she got into the back seat of an Oxford Community Police car.
Weeks after arresting a female suspect carrying a white puffy jacket while getting into their cruiser -- a woman later charged with abduction -- police investigating the killing of Victoria "Tori" Stafford continued to question frightened women in the city, several sources said.
"That's what I don't get," said the mother of one woman, whom she said was pulled out of their home by police with guns drawn.
"They had that girl right from the start. It was terrifying. That's what makes me so mad." -- Woodstock Sentinel Review
But seemingly it was five weeks later on May 19 when the connection was finally made resulting in McClintic’s arrest for the abduction of Tori Stafford, also charged as an accessory after the fact to her murder. McClintic’s charges have since been upgraded to unlawful confinement and first degree murder the same as her co-accused Michael Rafferty.
Adding further fuel to the fire of public resentment toward the local police is the latest revelation that on the evening of Apr 08, the day of Tori’s abduction, Oxford Community Police already had surveillance footage from a gas station near Tori’s school showing Michael Rafferty’s car within a few minutes of the abduction. The footage however did not show either Tori Stafford or Terry-Lynne McClintic being in or near the vehicle.
With such belated discoveries many concerned citizens are claiming the police blew it, others are pointing out further issues in support of the police. Such as the fact that Tori’s mother Tara McDonald did not report her daughter missing until just after 6 pm. Police believe Tori had already been taken out of the city and had likely even been killed by then.
Tori likely died the very day she disappeared, probably within an hour or so after she cheerfully walked off with a mysterious dark-haired woman in a white puffy coat. -- Globe and Mail
McDonald began calling her own daily press conferences. While she acknowledged there were rumours that Tori may have been taken over a drug debt, she consistently denied it as a possibility. After originally denying any drug use or connection to drugs she later admitted to an addiction to Oxycontin “in the past” after only occasional “recreational” use of the drug. Relatives however have stated they saw her crushing and snorting the drug before going out to do the afternoon press conferences where she denied using drugs. McClintic and Rafferty have also been linked to Oxycontin abuse.
Ms. McDonald was on at least one occasion seen by some of her relatives grinding up Oxycontin and snorting it, then emerging for her daily “one o’clock” as she called the news conferences, to among other things, deny that she had any connection to drugs or that drug debts could be at the root of her daughter’s disappearance. -- The Globe and Mail
McDonald left the police station in a rage after being informed that she had failed several questions on her lie detector test, complaining the police unfairly questioned and accused her instead of finding her daughter; according to her at one point saying she was their number one suspect.
Ms. McDonald also “failed” two of the questions she was asked during the polygraph test she agreed to take, and then stormed out of the police station in a rage when detectives told her she was withholding information -- The Globe and Mail
Since the announcement by police that Tori is believed to have been murdered McDonald has been less visible and is said to be grieving deeply over the loss of her daughter. She has said she wants McClintic and Rafferty dead.
“My daughter’s not coming home. I want the killers dead,” -- London Free Press
While some in the community are condemning police, others are not wanting to speak out against a grieving mother but say the rest of the facts need to be known. One of the unnamed mothers already quoted in this article says “when we know what really happened here we’ll know what we have to do to protect our children.”
She also expressed her concerns about trauma to children as a result of this crime, telling the story of a friend who has a 9 year old son who attends the same school as that of Tori Stafford prior to her abduction. She related how the boy has been vomiting after meals since the announcement at school that schoolmate Tori was murdered. The boys mother states he was already dealing with anger over the separation of his parents, but says now she is worried about his health.
The community of Woodstock has been struck deeply by this tragedy. Fear, suspicion, and insecurity remain. Regardless of their individual thoughts about the crime all here agree that Tori’s remains need to be found and brought home to Woodstock.