On April 8, 2009, Tori Stafford didn’t come home from school.

It was the first day she had been allowed to walk home alone from Oliver Stephens Public School.

After more than two hours elapsed without any sign of Stafford, police were notified – but an extensive search of her Woodstock neighbourhood and outlying areas failed to find any trace of her.

Much later, it would emerge that the eight-year-old had been met outside her Woodstock school by Terri-Lynne McClintic, who lured her into a car with the promise of seeing puppy.

That July, Stafford’s remains would be found hidden in a wooded area near Mount Forest.

Tuesday, five years to the day of Stafford’s disappearance, father Rodney Stafford visited his daughter’s grave site.

It’s a visit he makes as often as he can – but this time, in recognition of the occasion, he decorated Tori’s grave in purple, her favourite colour.

“It’s a really tough day,” he said.

“We all have to move on with our daily lives – but we’re trying to do what we can to celebrate the day before going into work.”

McClintic’s boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, was convicted of murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.

McClintic herself was also convicted of first-degree murder.

Both are serving life sentences.

Stafford said he continues to feel “a very big sense of loss” over his daughter’s death.

“It’s getting harder for me to deal with the fact that my taxes are helping keep this man alive, after he and another woman brutally took my daughter’s life,” he said.

“She had a whole life ahead of her, but it was taken from her by two people who felt their needs were more important.”

In Woodstock, a vigil was planned for Tuesday night to mark the anniversary.

On the city’s streets during the day, residents remembered the fear and insecurity they felt in the aftermath of Stafford’s disappearance.

“People were worried. You could just tell the community was sad,” said Elisha Daynard, who moved to Woodstock around the time of the abduction.

Purple ribbons continue to adorn posts and trees in Woodstock, and Abby Stewart -- whose brother also attended Oliver Stephens in 2009 – says the grieving process goes on.

“It definitely shook everyone up. Everything changed,” she said.

“You just see where the world’s going to now, and wonder what’s going to happen in the future.”