Candlelight vigil for Tori Stafford in Woodstock
Hundreds of people filled a Woodstock parking lot Saturday night to pay tribute to Tori Stafford. They stood just blocks away from the spot where the 8-year old was last seen three years ago.
Tori's father Rodney Stafford thanked the crowd for their continued support. "Three years later, [and you're] still showing the same support for Victoria. The only difference is she's home now, laid to rest in Woodstock. Yes, we did get justice thanks to you."
"Victoria might have been tiny, but she managed to reach out to millions of people with her tiny little smile and personality," said her mother Tara McDonald. "I hope that nobody ever forgets her for a second."
White doves were released by Tori's parents. "It's a celebration, because Victoria… everything's done in the courtroom and we can carry on," said Rodney to the crowd.
Family, friends and people who had never met Tori released balloons into the air. Many of them wore purple, which was Tori's favourite colour.
"Today is Victoria Day celebrations and its Tori's celebration as well," said her grandmother Linda Winters. "It's excellent."
Terri-Lynne McClintic lured Tori from outside her Woodstock school in April 2009. Michael Rafferty and McClintic then drove Tori to a rural area, where she was assaulted and brutally killed.
A similar vigil was held in the same parking lot just days after Tori first went missing in 2009.
The event Saturday night was organized by Brittany Lynn Vincent Davis over Facebook. She set up the page after Rafferty, 31, was convicted on May 11 for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering Tori. McClintic, 21, has also been convicted for her role in the little girl's death. Both Rafferty and McClintic have been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Participants said Woodstock was forever changed after Tori's tragic death. "I don't think we can describe what this means to the people of Woodstock," said one resident. "This was a heart-wrenching tragic thing that happened."
"I think it's a great time for everyone to come together and just celebrate justice for the family," said another resident.
Davis hopes everyone can move forward after the verdict and vigil. "There is room to breathe now. You can let your kids play and feel safe because we're aware of what could happen. We're also thankful and we know that now it's a little safer."