Chronology and characters in the Tori Stafford murder
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:36PM EDT
A chronology of key dates and times:
WARNING: Graphic details from this court case may disturb some readers.
April 8, 2009
3:25 p.m.: Dismissal bell rings at Oliver Stephens school; Victoria leaves one minute later than other kids after she runs back inside to get her mom's butterfly earrings.
3:32 p.m.: Terri-Lynne McClintic leads Tori away from school, into a retirement home parking lot. One minute later, a car similar to Rafferty's is seen driving away from the area.
5:03 p.m.: Rafferty withdraws $80 from ATM at Petro Canada in Guelph near Home Depot; one minute later, a car suspected to be Rafferty's drops off McClintic at Home Depot, where she purchases a hammer and garbage bags.
April 9, 2009: Police in Woodstock release grainy security video showing Tori walking away from school with a woman in a white puffy coat at 3:32 p.m. on April 8.
April 10, 2009: From 1:53 p.m. to 11:18 p.m., Rafferty and McClintic's phones exchange 44 text messages and two phone calls.
April 12, 2009: McClintic is arrested on an outstanding warrant and interviewed by police about Tori. She says she knows nothing and is sent to Genest Detention Centre in London, Ont.
April 12, 2009: More than 1,000 people show up at a candlelight vigil for Tori in Woodstock.
April 13, 2009: Woodstock police call off the ground search for Tori.
April 17, 2009: Ontario Provincial Police take the lead in the investigation. Ground search resumes. Police upgrade Tori's disappearance from a missing person case to an abduction investigation.
April 19-May 15, 2009: About 30 calls are exchanged between Rafferty's BlackBerry and Genest Detention Centre.
April 21, 2009: Composite sketch of the woman in the white coat is released to the media.
May 8 and 12, 2009: Rafferty visits McClintic at Genest.
May 15, 2009: Rafferty is interviewed by police about his association to McClintic. His BlackBerry calls Genest for the last time at 7:41 p.m.
May 19, 2009: McClintic is interviewed by police, first claiming to know nothing about the case but eventually confessing. She is charged with kidnapping and being an accessory to murder. At 7:55 p.m., Rafferty is arrested and charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder.
May 20, 2009: McClintic draws a rough sketch of the area where Tori was killed, which will eventually lead police to discover the girl's remains.
May 24, 2009: McClintic gives a full confession, with extensive details about April 8. She says Rafferty raped Tori, then killed her using a hammer.
June 7, 2009: Tori has still not been found, but her family holds a public memorial service.
July 19, 2009: Acting on information from Rafferty's cellphone records, a police officer drives around the Mount Forest area and recognizes an area from McClintic's sketch. He later stumbles upon Tori's decomposing remains in a secluded field.
April 30, 2010: McClintic pleads guilty to first-degree murder, but a strict publication ban means the media can only report that McClintic "was scheduled to appear" in court.
June 2, 2010: Rafferty is committed to trial, a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm is added.
Dec. 9, 2010: The Supreme Court of Canada denies leave to appeal in the publication ban matter, paving the way for the media to disclose that McClintic pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Jan. 14, 2012: McClintic changes her story and tells police she is the one who killed Tori.
Jan. 16, 2012: Pre-trial motions start in Rafferty's case in London, Ont., and are heard over the next several weeks.
March 5, 2012: Rafferty's trial begins; the Crown tells the nine-woman, three-man jury that Tori died a violent death, but that it's not necessary for them to determine who wielded the hammer and dealt the fatal blows -- just if Rafferty and McClintic acted together to bring about Tori's death.
March 13-23, 2012: McClintic testifies over six days, saying Rafferty urged her to kidnap a girl and that she killed Tori after Rafferty sexually assaulted the girl.
April 2, 2012: Jury visits the scene near Mount Forest where Tori's remains were found.
May 1, 2012: Defence lawyer Dirk Derstine opens and closes his case without having Rafferty testify.
May, 10, 2012: Jury begins to deliberate.
An at-a-glance look at the principal players:
Name: Victoria Elizabeth Stafford
Died April 8, 2009, age 8, from multiple blows to the head
By all accounts, Tori was a bubbly, energetic and spunky little girl.
She was inquisitive and thoughful, always trying to help her peers, but she had an impish side -- on the last day of her life, she pretended to cut decals off a friend's shirt at school. On school picture day, the day before she died, Tori snuck a pair of soccer cleats into her bag -- unbeknownst to her mother -- and wore them for the picture.
The resulting photo, which also features her pink T-shirt that says, "shopping," perfectly highlights the two sides of Tori: a "girly girl" who loved lip gloss and barrettes, and a tomboy who loved getting dirty and jumping in puddles. "She'd be outside in a dress picking up worms and bugs," her mom testified.
Her own words: "My name's Victoria, but everybody calls me Tori," she told her abductor as she was unwittingly led to her death.
Name: Michael Thomas Christopher Stephen Rafferty
Age 31, charged with first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping
Little is known about Rafferty's early life, except that he told people he wasn't close to his brothers and he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in the country -- near where Tori was killed -- for a time in middle school.
It appears he spent a lot of time on the dating website Plenty of Fish; in the spring of 2009 he dated more than a dozen women he met there. Few of the relationships lasted longer than a couple of weeks; several women bailed after one date. In the absence of the jury, the Crown told the judge some of Rafferty's girlfriends had "disconcerting" things to say about his behaviour toward their children.
Evidence that Rafferty had child pornography on his laptop and had conducted several pedophilic Internet searches -- "real underage rape" was one -- was excluded from the trial.
Most -- if not all -- of his money seems to have come from one girlfriend, who had for months been working as an escort and giving him her earnings.
His own words: "Just because I'm sleazy doesn't make me what I'm being accused of," Rafferty said in his interrogation.
Name: Terri-Lynne Ruth McClintic
Age 21, serving a life sentence for first-degree murder after pleading guilty two years ago in Tori's death
McClintic had a checkered childhood: born to one stripper and adopted by another, McClintic moved between eight communities before she was 17 with her drug-addicted adoptive mother, who got money from being on disability and dealing drugs.
As a child, McClintic microwaved a dog until it screamed. She first started using drugs at age eight. She started smoking marijuana, then used cocaine, ecstasy and morphine, settling mostly on OxyContin when she moved back to Woodstock at age 17.
By then she had also racked up six assault convictions -- one for giving her mom a black eye -- and soon added more in Woodstock, after she robbed two people, stabbed one of them and tried to resist arrest.
In testimony she referenced past physical abuse and hinted at sexual abuse. Letters she wrote while in a youth detention facility are filled with violent torture imagery, expressing a desire to do unspeakable things to innocent people as well as those who wronged her.
In her words: "I juz wanna be on road n take the first person I see, grab em...bring em wit me (and)...mutilate the (expletive) out of them, smash (their) skull apart then piece it togetha like a puzzle that way (they) stay conscious of the pain I'm inflictin on em," McClintic wrote to a friend while in custody in March 2008.
Name: Tara McDonald
Age 33, Tori's mother
McDonald and Rodney Stafford married when she was just 17. A couple years later son Daryn came along, and two years after that, on July 15, 2000, Victoria was born. McDonald and Stafford split up about 2 1/2 years later.
McDonald had custody, though her mother helped her to raise the children. In 2005 McDonald began to abuse OxyContin, and though she was going to the local methadone clinic at the time Tori disappeared, she was still taking the powerful prescription painkiller. She testified that she has been clean for more than six months.
McDonald met McClintic twice as she was buying OxyContin from McClintic's mother, though she said her boyfriend James Goris bought drugs from the McClintics more frequently.
In her words: "Just remember her because she was the prettiest, most beautiful little girl in the world," McDonald in May 2009 after Rafferty and McClintic were charged.
Name: Rodney Stafford
Age 36, Tori's father
Rodney Stafford has emerged as the family spokesman, a fixture of post-testimony media scrums outside the courthouse throughout the trial. He says he wants people to remember Tori and be aware of the dangers children can face.
He and McDonald are estranged and spent the trial sitting with their families in different sections of the courtroom.
Stafford has admitted he wasn't always around for his kids and completed the last of his high school credits while Tori was missing.
To honour his daughter's memory, Stafford embarked upon a bike ride in 2009 from Woodstock, Ont., to Edmonton, where Tori had taken a trip with relatives the previous year. He raised money for Child Find Ontario.
The following summer, he made the same trip in reverse, from Edmonton to Woodstock, this time alongside his son Daryn, who Stafford says lost his best friend in Tori.
In his words: "It's not about Rafferty, it's about the little girl who lost her life," Stafford said outside court on the first day of Rafferty's trial.
Name: Det. Staff Sgt. Jim Smyth
Veteran provincial police officer who took McClintic's confession, discovered Tori's remains
In policing since 1989, Smyth was already an experienced investigator when he was summoned to assist in the Tori Stafford case.
At the outset of his May 19 interview with McClintic, she continued to insist she'd had nothing to do with Tori's disappearance. By the end of the 3 1/2-hour interview, however, Smyth had extracted a confession.
She wanted to help find Tori's remains, so that night Smyth and three other officers drove her around as she pointed out familiar landmarks. Rafferty was arrested that same day and interrogated by Smyth that same night.
When Rafferty's cellphone records showed a call from April 8, 2009, near Mount Forest, Ont., Smyth went for a drive in the area. Acting on a hunch based on what McClintic had described, he turned down a rural laneway; on July 19, he discovered Tori's remains.
Smyth has since been promoted to the criminal profiling unit of the behavioural sciences section of the provincial police. On his last day as part of the Tori Stafford investigation, he attended her private funeral.
In his words: "Eight years old, Mike. Eight years old, buddy.... All she wanted to do was go home and have a little party for her friends because her mom just redecorated her room for her. That's pure evil, bud. And that's all I've seen for the last three hours, is pure evil from you." -- Smyth during his interrogation of Rafferty.