POLITICS

McClintic said she had anger issues hours before Tori Stafford was killed

03/08/2012 02:15 EST | Updated 05/08/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON, Ont. - In the hours before abducting an eight-year-old girl and leaving her brutally beaten body in a field, a teenager who confessed in the killing cited anger issues and her Grade 9 education as possible hurdles to finding work, court heard Thursday.

Terri-Lynne McClintic, who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the murder of Victoria Stafford, also listed babysitter among her past jobs at a meeting with an employment counsellor.

The now 21-year-old woman is set to testify Tuesday at the trial of her former boyfriend Michael Rafferty.

The Crown alleges the pair snatched Tori outside her elementary school in Woodstock, Ont., and drove her more than 100 kilometres north to a rural area, where she was sexually assaulted and killed.

Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.

When the Grade 3 student disappeared on April 8, 2009, a huge contingent of police officers worked flat out for up to 20 hours a day over six weeks in hopes of finding her alive, so it was a crushing blow when McClintic told them the girl was dead, court heard.

Police had held out hope Tori was alive until McClintic's confession six weeks after the disappearance, court heard.

"The investigation went from an abduction investigation to a homicide investigation," Woodstock police officer Det. Const. Sean Kelly testified, his voice trembling with emotion.

"It was quite significant and it had ... a pretty big impact."

Kelly choked up, so he paused, staring at the ceiling and trying to blink away tears.

"I'm good," he said eventually. "We'll continue."

As Tori spent the last few hours of her life at school jumping in puddles and researching plants on a computer, McClintic spent time at an employment centre, where she filled out forms listing her minimal work experience and indicating she was on social assistance, Kelly testified.

Documents show McClintic arrived at the employment centre at 2:19 p.m. She was seen on surveillance video leading Tori away from school at 3:32 p.m.

McClintic had last worked for three weeks in November 2008 at ATS Reliance in Cambridge, Ont., as an industrial cleaner. She expressed interest in getting her high school equivalency and taking training needed to serve alcohol.

She indicated she was a non-status aboriginal, was on social assistance and had only completed Grade 9, but was interested in labour or "hands on" work, expecting to be paid about $10 an hour.

McClintic said she was a perfectionist, that employers would consider her a good candidate and that she was "highly motivated" to find work.

She also checked off the box next to "I tend to become angry easily," and wrote in by hand: "But have been able to maintain control over situations."

In addition to her brief stint as an industrial cleaner, McClintic worked as a babysitter for various families in September and October of 2008 as well as the summers of 2001, 2002 and 2003, caring for children between eight months and five years of age.

McClintic made a follow-up appointment at the employment centre for April 16, but by then she was already in custody.

Tori's mother testified Wednesday that when surveillance video of the girl being led away by a woman was released, a friend told her it looked like McClintic, so she phoned police.

A check turned up a warrant for McClintic's arrest on a parole violation, breach of custody and supervision. Police arrested her April 12, 2009, and she confessed to Tori's murder on May 19.

The trial has heard about the massive scale of the investigation and how officers worked around the clock to try to find Tori.

"We did the best that we could," Kelly said.

Tori's body was found naked from the waist down in garbage bags under a pile of rocks in a field near Mount Forest, Ont. She died from multiple blows to the head with a hammer, but she also had blunt injuries to her body that lacerated her liver and fractured her ribs — injuries that could have been fatal on their own, court has heard.