...Or, why the death penalty exists
by Robert A. Waters
The cruelty of humans is sometimes beyond belief. This is the story of a beautiful child abducted from her school, raped twice, and murdered in the most violent way. If you’re squeamish, don’t read this.
At 3:30 p.m., April 8, 2009, Victoria “Tori” Stafford went missing from Oliver Stephens School in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Surveillance videos showed a woman walking away from the school hand-in-hand with the eight-year-old. It also showed a teal-colored van in the parking lot at the time Tori vanished.
Ontario Provincial Police launched the largest manhunt in Canadian history. Then, a month after the abduction, investigators identified Terri-Lynne McClintic, 21, as the mystery woman. She and her boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, 31, were soon arrested. Two months later, police located Tori’s decomposing remains in a rural area.
McClintic, a drug addict, owned a teal-colored van and confessed to the appalling murder. She later pled guilty, describing the events to a jury. When the details of Tori’s last hours became known, McClintic and Rafferty replaced serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka as the most hated couple in Canada.
At her trial, McClintic testified that she lured the child to her car by asking Tori to come see a schitzu puppy, the same breed as the girl’s pet. (McClintic knew Tori’s mother because they both raised schitzus and had done drugs together.)
McClintic testified that she had smoked marijuana and took Oxycontin earlier that day. After the abduction, the couple switched to Rafferty's car. Then, according to the UK Daily Mail, “the drug-addicted couple made three stops…to pick up Percocet, a highly-addictive narcotic pain killer, coffee and a hammer and garbage bags before arriving at the remote area chosen to kill the innocent school girl.”
Rafferty raped the child in the front seat of his car while McClintic walked around outside. She said she heard Tori’s screams as the child was being brutalized. After he finished, Rafferty called McClintic to take Tori outside so she could urinate.
While they were away from the car, the sobbing victim pleaded with McClintic to help her. “Please don’t let him do that to me again,” Tori cried. The newspaper reported that Mclintic told her she was sorry and to be strong. Then she led Tori back to the car.
UK Daily News reported that “[McClintic] told the packed courtroom that as they were walking back to the car, Tori wouldn't let go of her hand… ‘She asked me to stay with her. I tried to hold on to her hand but I couldn’t stay because I knew what was going to happen,’ said the former drug addict. ‘I couldn’t be there for that. I left.’”
Rafferty raped the child again.
McClintic testified that she came back to the car, placed a garbage bag over Tori’s head, and began beating her with the hammer. Angry because she’d been raped when she was Tori’s age, McClintic said, “I savagely murdered that little girl.”
Rafferty and McClintic took their captive out of the car and began kicking and stomping her. The coroner testified that she'd been found in a fetal position, that she had at least four skull fractures, and that sixteen of her ribs were broken. Her liver had been lacerated while she was still alive.
After murdering the child, McClintic and Rafferty placed rocks over her body to hide the remains. They then went to a car wash and cleaned the car.
Rafferty was convicted of first degree murder, sexual assault, causing bodily harm, and kidnapping. Since Canada no longer has the death penalty, he will receive mandatory life in prison when he is sentenced.
As a side-note, almost everybody in the case except Tori had been addicted to drugs: Tori’s mother and step-father; McClintic’s mother; Rafferty and McClintic; and many of their friends and relatives.
Tori Stafford deserved a better life.
And her killers deserved worse than life. Much worse.